Posted on May 26, 2005

Africa Home To Most Of World’s “Ultra-Poor” — Study

Ed Stoddard, Reuters, May 23

JOHANNESBURG — The number of poor people in Africa almost doubled between 1981 and 2001 and the continent is home to virtually all of the planet’s “ultra-poor” who live on less than half a dollar a day, a new study has found.

Published by the University of Cape Town’s Development Policy Research Unit, the paper — “Poverty, Inequality and Labour Markets in Africa: A Descriptive Overview” — paints a grim picture of a continent falling behind its peers.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts “for almost all of the world’s ultra-poor: namely those individuals living on less than half of the standard $1 a day poverty line,” says the paper.


“In absolute terms, while there were approximately 164 million poor individuals in sub-Saharan Africa in 1981, this figure had increased to 316 million in 2001,” it said.

This gloomy state of affairs differs sharply from other developing regions.

The paper says that South Asia in the two decades from 1981 managed to reduce its levels of poverty by an annualised rate of between two and three percent.


East Asia also reduced its poverty levels significantly, even with China excluded.