The number of people living in poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has overtaken that of South Asia, according to a new study. Nearly 579mn Africans live in what the study calls “acute multidimensional poverty,” AllAfrica reports.
The Global Multidimentional Poverty Index (MPI) is published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) in the United Kingdom. It is based on household surveys in 111 countries across the world.
According to the 2022 MPI, released on October 17, in South Asia 385mn people now live in poverty. India remains the country with the most poor people (229mn) while Nigeria has the next highest number (97mn), almost half the population.
The MPI uses a wide range of criteria to assess poverty levels, unlike older methods of judging poverty by income. Based on access to education, health, housing, drinking water, sanitation and electricity, the number of the world's poor is double the number of people who live below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day, researchers say.
According to the study, 50mn people live in acute poverty in the world's three poorest countries: Niger, South Sudan and Burkina Faso.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the poor are more likely to be deprived of electricity and drinking water. “The region's electrification rate is 48.4%,” the study says, “and in at least eight countries, less than 20% of the population have access to electricity.”
The “poorest of the poor”, defined as those deprived under all the criteria used to assess their condition, include 3.8mn people in Sub-Saharan Africa, including 910,000 in Nigeria, 685,000 in Niger and 615,000 in Ethiopia.
The study identified 12 African nations among the 20 countries which reduced poverty levels the fastest prior to the Covid-19 pandemic: the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Back in 2020, the survey predicted the pandemic would set progress towards ending poverty back by between three and 10 years. This year, the authors say, the setback will be at the higher end of this projection.