Poverty Eradication Day: What Africa Must Do

Despite significant economic growth and progress in various sectors, many Africans continue to live in extreme poverty.

Development Diaries reports that the 2023 theme for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which is celebrated annually on 17 October, is ‘Decent Work and Social Protection: Putting Dignity in Practice for All’.

Africa is a continent of immense potential and diverse resources, but it is also home to some of the world’s poorest countries.

The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2023 report, titled Unstacking global poverty: Data for high impact action, revealed that 534 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are living in acute poverty.

In 2022, 431 million people in the African continent were estimated to be surviving on less than U.S.$1.90 per day, the threshold for extreme poverty, according to data from Statista.

Poverty remains a pervasive issue in Africa, affecting millions of people and hindering the continent’s development.

Poverty in Africa is often attributed to a range of interconnected factors, including high unemployment rates, lack of access to education and health care, and social and economic inequalities, and political instability.

The consequences of the high rate of poverty in the continent are food insecurity, limited health care access, low economic development and social unrest.

In line with the aforementioned theme, social protection and decent work are essential elements of a comprehensive plan to end poverty.

By focusing on the creation of decent work opportunities, African governments and development partners can tackle the root causes of poverty.

Investments in infrastructure, technology, and education can foster labour-intensive sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), generating employment opportunities for the rapidly growing African population.

A well-educated and skilled workforce is essential for participating in decent work opportunities, hence governments must invest in quality education and vocational training to empower their citizens with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the modern job market.

Additionally, ensuring that workers have the right to organise, engage in collective bargaining, and enjoy social dialogue with employers is crucial. Strong labour laws and regulations protect workers and create a fair working environment.

Social protection programmes provide another opportunity to eradicate poverty, because they serve as a critical safety net for vulnerable populations, preventing them from falling deeper into poverty.

These programmes encompass various initiatives, such as cash transfer, health insurance, and unemployment benefits, and are designed to provide financial support in times of need.

African governments should expand targeted social assistance programmes to reach the most vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. These programmes help families meet their basic needs and reduce the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Access to health care is a fundamental right. Universal health coverage ensures that all citizens have access to quality health care services without suffering financial hardships, which can result from medical expenses.

Establishing unemployment benefits can provide a crucial lifeline to those who lose their jobs. This ensures that the unemployed have a minimum level of income while they seek new opportunities, reducing the risk of falling into poverty.

Development Diaries calls on African governments to employ a comprehensive approach to eradicate poverty by promoting job creation, investing in education and skills development, and establishing robust social protection programmes.

Photo source: TREEAID


About the Author