Poverty levels in these countries has been rising over the years. They have a past of political instability, slow economic growth and sanctions from the international community since their independence. In addition, poor governance, corruption and political mudslinging hinders delivery of basic services to its citizens. There is also over reliance on international aid from World Bank, International Monetary Fund and well-wishers.
The most dependable measure of poverty levels in the world is GDP (Gross Domestic Product), representing the size of economy in a country and PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) which takes care of the inflation levels and living standards of countries rather than relying on just exchange rates. Other parameters include low literacy rates, high unemployment rates and high external debts.
However, it’s no longer a disputable fact that this world bodies like IMF are contributing towards improving the macro economic conditions of these countries. For example, most debts are being cancelled while some are being relieved off the interest rates. Some countries are also nurturing their private companies and attracting foreign investments.
In this list we will explore the poorest countries in the world using a number of interactive tools.
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
This land locked central Asian country is the 42nd most populous country in the world. It has been marred with poor governance, terrorism and political instability since 1970s. This has translated to severe poverty on its citizens with a high dependency on the working population. However, the life expectancy of people in this country is estimated to be 60 years, with only 32% of its population being literate. The per capita income by the UN is estimated to be less than $1,885. The external debt stock of Afghanistan is 12.3% of its gross national income (GNI).
The African Great Lakes region member has been rocked with political instability in the recent years due to poor governance and military coups. It also ranks high as one of the world’s most disliked countries. The country has a population of 10.5 million people, with 81% of its population lives below $1.25 per day. In addition, the country is frequently affected by natural disasters and the life expectancy of 56 years. However, its per capita income is $758.2 and an external debt stock of 23.5% of its GNI.
Although this food-deficit country is recovering from years of political turmoil, it still ranks high in poverty levels. In addition, the country is marred with corruption following a 20 year civil unrest that claimed over 200,000 people. Average per capita income is $804, with its small population of 4.4 million with 80% of this population earning less than $1.25 on a daily basis. Liberia has an external debt stock that claims 30% of its GNI although close to 59% of its population is employed.
Haiti’s weak economy can be attributed to the poor governance, inaccessibility to quality education and constant disasters from nature. There is the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the nation in 2010, bringing its struggling economy to its knees. The country has a population of close to 10.5 million people, with per capita income of $1,850. Since the country is grappling with poverty, its external debt stock has risen over the years, settling on 15% of its GNI.
Although Uganda boasts of having natural resources and minerals such as oil, gold, copper among others, little has been done by the country to boost its economy. The government has not tackled the extreme poverty levels witnessed in rural areas such as Northern Uganda. Much of the country’s development is in Central Uganda, where the country’s capital, Kampala is. It enjoys improved living standards coming from both industrial and agricultural development. Its average per capita income is $1,836, a population of 39 million people and an external debt stock of 21% of GNI.
The West African nation grapples with unstable governments and recurring severe droughts which goes down to constant economic crisis, year in year out. However the country enjoys good arable lands that grow cotton not mentioning the many gold reserves in the country. The country has a population of 18 million people, but a child labor force consisting of 40% percent off this figure. Its per capita income is $1,825 but an external debt stock of 23% of the GNI.
The new member of East Africa Community recently set ground for elevating itself economically, dubbed “Vision 2020”. This aims at improving a number of thing; youth employment, reduce education and promotion of good governance. However, according to World Bank, this country the country has a per capita income of $1,782, a demography of 12.1 million people with 20% of this figure forming the urban population. Rwanda has an external debt stock of 23% eating up its GNI.
Union of the Comoros Island
Comoros has experienced political unrest for over 25 years has left Comoros at the brink of disintegration. In addition, the country has a restricted domestic market, high cost of inter-island and international transports, which rolls back to poor infrastructure hence hampering both internal and external investors willing to develop the islands. Over half of its total population earns less than $1.25 on a daily basis, thanks to the high unemployment rates with most people getting only precarious jobs in the long run. Poverty is greatest in the rural areas, forming 42% of its total population of 1 million people. The per capita income is $1,455 with an external debt stock of 22% sunk in GNI.
Once dubbed the agricultural hub of Africa, little is being done by successive government to have this country reclaim this title in recent years. Troublingly, its largest population can be found in slums of its major cities, hence making agricultural productivity low, not mentioning the frequent severe droughts. In addition, external aids, eating up to 27% of its GNI is not used effectively to tackle cases of poor governance and empowering its citizens, who are over 93 million people, through education and creating adequate employment opportunities. Its per capita income is $1,640.
The gateway to Mount Everest has been hit by a number of disastrous earthquakes in 2015. Additionally, most Nepalese are grappling with vagaries of life, such as education and employment, although the country enjoys significant scholarship offers from developed economies in order to tackle extreme poverty. Nepal’s economy has sunk, mainly because its tourism sector has not yet recovered from this natural disaster. Remember that tourism is the country’s backbone, making the per capita income drop to $2,516, with a population of 28.1 million people. External debt stock is 20%, eating up on the countries GNI.
Even with vast deposits of uranium and gold, the country is still dependent on foreign aid. In addition over 60% of its land is part of the Sahara desert but parts of Mali are covered with riverine features of the Niger River, which makes the area arable hence making efforts to strengthen the country’s dwindling economy. Political instability has hit Mali, since 2012 with military coups, rebels and terrorist groups like Sahel controlling Northern Mali. 90% of a total of 16 million people in population live in rural areas and are worst hit by poverty. Its current per capita income is $1,614, with an external debt of 33% of GNI.
Despite being the largest producers of phosphate, much of the country’s population wallows in poverty. The small nation is not new to political instability, with coups and terrorism destabilizing successive governments in recent years. For a country with an per capita income of $1,526 and external debt stock of 24%, it has not smoothen some of the hurdles restricting its citizens from engaging in business, for example, elimination of tough construction permits, protection of minority investors and resolving insolvency issues in the banking sector.
With no stable government and a fragile military, Guinea-Bissau is making international headlines as the hotspot for cocaine trafficking. Political upheavals have put the country’s economy at ransom while hindering the exportation of cashew nuts that have received an increased international demand. The country is also grappling with building the human capital in order to make it competitive with other developing economies. There is also less efforts being done by the current government to boost the new green shoots in the agricultural sector, let alone increasing the cashew exports to other countries. The current per capita income stands at $1,228, with an external debt stock of 25%.
Absence of a decent road network, political strive and poor governance are some of the factors leading to poor economic growth in this island country. This have extensively affected the tourism and mining industries leading to high inflation rates and a significant reduction in the purchasing power of its citizens. The country also ranks high as one of the poor places to locate a business although, the current government is doing much to improve this, for example, lowering the tax on fuel and petroleum products. The current per capita income is $1,478, with a population of 24 million people.
Endowed with lots of minerals, Guinea could be one of the richest countries in Africa, were it not for political upheavals, mismanagement of its economy by the government and frequent Ebola pandemic that wipes out its population pretty quick. With a population of 11 million people and half being women, the country’s per capita income is $1,095. In addition, the country is struggling with its effort to restore its economy after the recent Ebola crisis, hence relying heavily on donor funding from World Bank. External funding is also essential in rebuilding the public health sector in order to help the country cope with future disease outbreaks. The external debt stock stands at 21% of the GNI.
Despite having a promising mining sector; Bisha gold mines and valuable metals such as copper and zinc, Eritrea has the largest number of asylum seekers in the world. They mainly flee the country, due to the successive repressive governments that have taken over the years. This poor country has 80% of its population dependent on rain-fed subsistence farming hence living the rural areas. Over 65% of a population of 6.5 million people live below the poverty line, below $1.25 per day. Additionally, the health sector has been left out, with incidences of malnutrition in children and women ever high. High budget deficits have left the country at the mercy of donors, with the UN Security Council having imposed sanctions on the Eritrean government due to its involvement in insecurity around the Horn of Africa. Per capita income is currently at $1,210 and an external debt stock of 28%.
Niger happens to be the least developed country in the world. With a population of 16 million, which is set to rise, 76% of the total population lives below $1.25. This can be attributed to the political unrest, with the ruling coalition imprisoning the opposition. There is also repeated attacks on the southern part of Niger, from Boko Haram, a terrorist network operating in West Africa. Risk of economic disruption due to fiscal imbalances have made the country grapple with poverty. The current GNI stands at $910, with an external debt stock of 37%.
The majority the poor population, 88% actually, lives in the rural areas. Although the country is recovering from the 2000-2008 hyperinflation, the economy is still vulnerable to trade shock that have resurfaced as from 2013. The country is also slow in rebuilding the current political fragilities, making external investors shy off from investing in it. Further renewal of the education and health sector will help in implementing the economic policies being set by the current government. In addition, it will help in lessening the arrears owned to international lenders since the current external debt stock is 70%, with a per capita income of $2,106.
Central African Republic
CAR has experienced years of humanitarian crisis making it the least developed country in the world. It has a population of 4.5 million and almost half of it is in seriously need of external humanitarian aid. Much of its natural resources has not been exploited with only subsistence farming making a third of its GDP. CAR has a per capita income of $590 and an external debt stock of 38%.
Democratic Republic of Congo
DRC faces problems and sanctions from the international community, because of how it’s poorly handling human rights and the ever present civil wars. The country has substantial oil reserves, natural forest, extensive arable land and minerals that could benefit it and the neighboring countries. DRC’s economy remains vulnerable thanks to the exogenous shocks affecting oil prices and mining production. The per capita income is $680, with external debt stock of 22%.
Written by Garrett Parker
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