Despite the progress made in the fight against extreme poverty, it is sad that over 700 million people across the world still live on less than $1.90 per day. According to the World Bank, many of the world’s citizens are still entangled in extreme poverty in spite of the giant strides recorded in the fight against the vice some years ago.
However, the global bank’s Vice President in charge of Development Finance, Akihiko Nishio, is optimistic that the bank will help the poorest countries to end extreme poverty. There is no doubt that the entire world is going through a slowdown in economic growth, which has been responsible for the rising poverty in the last few years. It, therefore, follows that progress will be more uncertain, especially in the poorest countries.
The International Development Association (IDA), the global bank’s concessional lending arm for the world’s poorest countries has done much to reduce poverty. It has provided more than $360 billion in grants and near-zero interest loans for investments in 113 countries in recent times.
In 2018, the IDA committed $24 billion in loans and grants to poor countries. Nevertheless, we believe that more should be done in this area to curb the growing poverty in the world. Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world. Hitherto, India was the poverty capital of the world. As at June 2018, Nigeria had 86 .9 million people living in extreme poverty; India, 71.5 million; DR Congo, 60.9 million; Ethiopia, 23.9 million; Tanzania, 19.9 million; Mozambique, 17.8 million; Bangladesh, 17 million; Kenya, 14.7 million; Indonesia, 14.2 million and Uganda, 14.2milion.
The unemployment figure in Africa is reportedly 32 per cent with youth unemployment responsible for 60 per cent of it. Nigeria has 23.3 per cent unemployment figure. To stem the global poverty level, governments of the affected countries must endeavour to create more jobs for the unemployed people.
The Nigerian government can only do this by investing heavily in agriculture. Interestingly, Nigeria has about 98.3 hectares of arable land. While 72.2 million hectares of the land are cultivable, only 34.2 million hectares were cultivated. To lift many Nigerians out of poverty, the Federal Government should also diversify the economy by stridently developing the non-oil sectors. This is, indeed, the right time to fully develop the solid mineral sector.
We equally note with concern that climate change threatens agricultural systems, safety and livelihoods of most people in countries experiencing extreme poverty. In these countries, the poorest and most vulnerable people are mostly affected by the climate change. Therefore, the global bank should map out workable strat
egies to confront extreme poverty the world over.
Apart from these measures, it is sad that affected countries which are mostly in Asia and Africa are not doing enough to reduce poverty. Most of these countries are still grappling with the problem of corruption bad governance and abuse of office by its leaders. We urge the governments of these countries to initiate socio-economic programmes that will ensure the welfare of their people.
They must work hard to really lift their people out of extreme poverty. The provision of food for the people, which is a cardinal necessity of life, should be made a priority in these countries. It is regrettable that despite the modest efforts of the Nigerian government to alleviate poverty through agriculture, the herdsmen/farmers clashes have affected food production and contributed to increasing poverty in the country.
Nigeria, according to the Nigeria Economic Report, has one of the world’s highest economic growth rates, averaging 7.4%. At the same time, its poverty level still remains significant at 33.1%. For a country with massive wealth, plenty of natural resources such as oil and abundant solid minerals, the level of poverty in the country is quite unacceptable.
We urge the government to take more pragmatic measures to alleviate poverty. The war against extreme poverty in the country can only be won when many unemployed Nigerians have steady jobs.