Africa: The Geography of Poverty

Jakarta — World leaders agreed in 2000 to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015. The poverty line was defined as the purchasing power parity (PPP) equivalent to a US dollar a day, later adjusted to the 2005 PPP equivalent of $1.25 daily in 2008 to the 2012 PPP equivalent of $1.90 daily in 2015.

As the cost of living rise unevenly across the world, the World Bank periodically updates the global poverty line to reflect these changes. Nevertheless, there are many concerns about how the line was defined and has been revised over the decades.

According to the most recent estimates of the World Bank, 12.7 per cent of the world’s population lived at or below $1.90 a day in 2012, compared with 37 per cent in 1990 and 44 per cent in 1981. This means that in 2012, 896 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day, compared with 1.95 billion in 1990, and 1.99 billion in 1981.

Global progress in reducing extreme poverty over the last three decades has been modest and uneven across the regions. East Asia saw the most dramatic reduction in extreme poverty, from 80 per cent in 1981 to 7.2 per cent in 2012, mainly due to rapid growth in China since the 1980s that saw its poverty rate decline from 66.6 per cent in 1990 to 18.8 per cent in 2005 and around 10 per cent in 2012.

In South Asia, the share of the population living in extreme poverty dropped from 58 per cent in 1981 to 18.7 per cent in 2012. But extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has hardly declined, standing at around 42.6 per cent in 2012.