Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is projected by the World Bank to drop to 35 percent this year as faster economic growth in the past two decades allowed governments to boost spending on schools and clinics.
The share of people living on less than $1.90 a day, defined as extreme poverty, is set to decline from 43 percent in 2012 and 56 percent in 1990, the Washington-based lender said in a report released on Friday. Globally, the poverty rate will probably drop to under 10 percent this year, the bank said.
Sub-Saharan Africa has benefited from rising commodity prices, debt relief and better economic management in the past two decades, allowing the region to emerge as one of the fastest-growing in the world after Asia. A slowdown this year triggered by falling oil and metal prices is complicating efforts to reduce poverty further, according to the World Bank.
“The human toll of poverty in Africa remains unacceptably high,” Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s vice president for the continent, said in the statement. “Significant efforts must be made to boost productivity in agriculture, a sector that still employs most of the region’s poorest, and increase access to affordable and reliable electricity.”
The World Bank last week cut its 2015 economic growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa to 3.7 percent from 4.2 percent, citing weak global conditions and falling commodity prices.
The region has been the slowest of all major developing regions at reducing poverty, according to the World Bank. That’s mainly because of poor schooling outcomes, politically fragile states, violence against civilians and a lack of wealth distribution in resource-rich countries, it said. Data gaps also make it difficult for policy makers to target programs for the poor.
“As African countries develop policies targeting job creation and inclusive growth, improving the way poverty is measured in its various dimensions will be crucial,” Diop said.