Posted on November 3, 2004

Sub-Saharan Africa Slides Deeper Into Poverty

Reuters, Nov. 2

CAPE TOWN — Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the poorest regions in the world, will slide deeper into poverty over the next decade despite a bold economic recovery plan, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The independent South African Institute of Race Relations’ (SAIRR) annual report estimates that the region, ravaged by an HIV/AIDS pandemic, will account for half the world’s poor by 2015 — up from 27 percent in 1999.

“Despite the efforts of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) and the African Union . . . Africa will get significantly poorer during a time period that will see global poverty reduced by a third,” the SAIRR said.

Nepad is an African initiative aimed at improving governance to help attract billions of dollars in aid and investment to the continent. Corruption, wars and poor governance have been blamed for the continent’s inability to attract significant financial support from rich nations.

The study predicted that the number of people living on less than a dollar a day globally would fall to 810 million from 1.17 billion by 2015.

“In sub-Saharan Africa the opposite will happen. From 241 million people living on less than a dollar a day in 1990 that figure increased to 315 million in 1999 and is set to reach over 400 million by 2015,” it said.

The study also found that spending on healthcare had declined by 4.8 percent in real terms in South Africa between 1996 and 2003, and that the mortality rate for children under five years of age had risen by 63.9 percent between 1998 and 2002.

The SAIRR said the proportion of tuberculosis cases recorded in the country that were also HIV positive related increased from 23.4 percent in 1995 to 62 percent in 2003.

South Africa has the highest caseload of HIV/AIDS in the world with one in nine people estimated to be infected with the virus that causes AIDS, according to government statistics.

Neighboring countries are facing similar or higher rates of infection.