Up to half of southern Africa's 590 million people get along on less than a $1 a day despite more than 50 years' effort to cut poverty there, the World Bank said in a report Wednesday.
"Whereas in other parts of the world we're seeing poverty declining, in Africa and sub-Saharan Africa unfortunately we are seeing the reverse trend," said Callisto Madavo of Zimbabwe, a World Bank vice president.In presenting a 32-page report on poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, Madavo called for an effort to "ratchet up" incomes to outpace population growth.
Among causes of African poverty cited in the report are lack of jobs; inadequate land and natural resources; lack of credit and access to markets and capital, both financial and human; and failure to draw the poor into development programs.
Such programs are run by the United States and other more prosperous countries, as well as international bodies like the bank.
Madavo said that although there has been better news in recent months, it will take 60 years to double the average income in southern Africa at the current rate of growth.
Madavo, one of the bank's top executives for southern Africa, said 45 percent to 50 percent of the people there live below the bank's poverty line for the region of $1 a day.
One dollar buys more in Africa than it would in the United States. In Zimbabwe, for example, the bank has calculated that the $490 average yearly income would have a buying power of $2,040 - still a tiny amount compared with incomes in the United States, Western Europe and many Asian countries.