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Absolute poverty is the state of an individual lacking basic human needs. There are like daily meals, housing, clothing, medical care, clean water and education. On the other hand, relative poverty is the state of an individual lacking a usual socially acceptable level of resources as income compared to other people in the society (Bergmann ets, 2000). Statistics show that about 1.7 billion out of seven billion people live in poverty all over the world. Unfortunately, a majority of people from Africa form a sizeable potion of these individuals living in poverty (Devichand, 2007).
Poverty levels in Sub-Saharan Africa
High index values, indicated by lighter colors, show the relative poverty of African countries as ranked by the UNDP's 2004 list of countries by quality of life.
The World Bank refers to living below $1.25 a day as absolute poverty. This means that the better part of the sub Saharan African lives in absolute poverty. Poverty is a problem that has been in Africa for an exceptionally long time. It contributes immensely for the lack of development and other devastating results in to the people living in Africa. The causes of poverty in Africa are both self inflicted and uncontrollable factors. These causes are;
Mismanagement of land
Africa has a lot of arable land of which most is not in use at all. Therefore, land ownership in most of Africa is tribal, and there is no control or development can be done with the land. In places with the best land, the poor people tend to work for the rich who own the best lands. The estimation of South Africa is 82% of all arable land belongs to the few rich African and the European settlers. The other communal land is in use for grazing of domesticated animals such as cattle instead of implementing agricultural ideas to improve food production. Land ownership systems in Africa are poor. Many people do not have deed for their parcels of land. Therefore, they cannot obtain mortgages or loans to get out of poverty.
Misuse of money
Over a period of many years, Africa has being receiving money from America and other European nations to Africa to help in their development. This money amounts to over $500 billion in direct aid. However, there is little on the ground to account for this money. Most of this money buys weapons which do not add any value directly to the citizens' lives. Some of this money does substantial projects that are not carefully analyzed resulting into massive loses. For example, the Akosombo dam in Ghana which led to a total loss. The failure of the Akosombo Dam project made Ghana lose its position as the richest country in Africa leading its people to poverty. This money should support development projects in relevant sectors for example, building infrastructure, healthcare education and many other useful projects.
There is rampant corruption in many African countries. Even though corruption is a common evil all the world over, in Africa it causes a lot of harm. Tax payers money, money from aid and also loans from World Bank is stolen by the corrupt government officials Instead of the money that the government allocates for useful projects that would build the economy of the country people use it for personal interests (Wangwe, 1998). Government jobs opportunities that are crucial to the economic growth is usually offered to friends and relative of the political class (nepotism) who either do a shoddy work of engage in corrupt deals thus losing the money that should to take people out of poverty.
The availability of cheap labor all over Africa by people who are desperate due to poverty makes Africa lags behind in terms of development. For instance in the book Eat, the Rich P.J. O'Rourke says that during his trip to Tanzania, he found out that gravel was pound by human hands rather than machines as it is done in many places all over the world. Using machines is cheaper and more efficient than manual work, but fear of unemployment leads to poor attitudes towards technology. However, this unnecessary expenses lead to more poverty.
There are numerous diseases affecting people in Africa. Malaria and HIV/AIDS play a key role in killing many Africans every year. About 3,000 African die daily of AIDS, and an additional 11.000 get infections. Such deaths led to loss of man power for agricultural production thus poverty. Lack of clean drinking water and proper sanitation also lead to diseases (World Bank Analysis, 2011).
There are many tribal wars that leave countries in Africa devastated and cannot easily recover economically thus poverty. For instance, a country like Somalia has had about two decades of civil war. These conflicts hinder infrastructural development, education, agricultural development and development of a health care system thus subjecting its people to absolute poverty. African has this tradition of having many children and regarding it as prestigious. Such cultural features only increases poverty as the resources the family has are inadequate in satisfying their basic needs.
Drought is a vital natural disaster causing poverty in Africa. Many Africans depend on the natural rain for agricultural practices. If the rains fail, there are usually many deaths caused by starvation as people are poor and cannot afford to buy anything else. Even though, this is not a self inflicted problem something can still be done about it to reduce the poverty it causes.
The results of poverty clearly speak out for themselves. There are like diseases, misgovernment by those taking advantage of the poverty situation, fights for the few available resources, illiteracy, poor quality life and death. Influx of refugees also occurs in countries with better economic status by people who are in a desperate search for a livelihood as well as in the developing countries. The development of slums, social evils such as prostitution, child marriages and crime is also results of poverty.
To reduce and finally eliminate poverty in Africa, the African people must first take the initiative to make a change. They should have democratic elections where they elect responsible leaders who will not engage in acts of corruption. Such leaders will spear head the development that is essential. With good governance, money from foreign nations that is America, Europe and Asia and also from the World Bank will support projects that would generate revenue for the people and the government to eliminate poverty (Banerjee ets, 2011).
Secondly, emphasis should be put on the fundamental matters such as education and health care. Eradication of diseases such as malaria will reduce the death rate. With more people in the workforce agricultural development will be fostered. Education will eradicate illiteracy among the population thus providing manpower with adequate knowledge and skills to eradicate poverty.
Proper management of land in Africa will also go a long way in eradicating poverty. Arable land should be put into full use for maximum productivity. This will ensure food security thus eliminating poverty. Alternative methods of agriculture such as irrigation should also be adopted. This will ensure a constant supply of food even if the rains fail. Neo-colonization should also be eliminated. This will ensure that the natural resources from Africa are not into grabbing vice by foreign countries leaving Africans languishing in poverty. In Africa, family planning should also be encouraged to reduce cases of people having too many members of a family than they can fend for thus reducing poverty (Banerjee ets, 2011).
Poverty in Africa can be fought and eliminated with the effort of the Africans and the world as a whole. To create a better continent that has happy people for the benefit of the whole world.