Monday, June 28, 2010

Poverty is falling, even in Sub-Saharan Africa

The truth is that poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is dropping, yet it is consistency being shown as a failure. In order to halve it's poverty level from 2000 to the year 2015, Sub-Saharan Africa would have to experience economic growth that even the best economy could not achieve. Yet, this is the standard it and the world is trying to chase in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

An article in Business Daily Africa highlights a couple of studies that criticize the MDGs. Writer Victor Juma gives us the details on the studies and shows us some of Africa's successes.

Economics professor at New York University, William Easterly, says in a research paper that choices made in defining success or failure as achieving numerical targets for MDGs made their attainment “less likely in Africa than in other regions even when its progress was in line with or above historical or contemporary experience of other regions.”

Citing statements from the IMF, WB, and UN, Prof Easterly says the view that Africa will miss all the MDGs has the effect of making African successes look like failures.

“The paper does not argue that Africa’s performance is good in all areas, only that its relative performance looks worse because of the particular way in which the MDG targets are set. As a result, some African successes are portrayed as failures.”

The bid to reduce poverty by half is criticised, one, for ignoring the fact that Africa is coming from a relatively low economic base and, secondly, for turning a blind eye on economic growth indicators that fall below the $1.25 a day threshold.

For Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with low per capita income and high initial poverty, achieving the poverty reduction targets means growing at a higher rate than other countries, a Herculean task.

Michael Clemens and Todd Moss of the Centre for Global Development estimate that for Africa to halve poverty by 2015, it will take an average seven per cent year-on-year annual growth.

“Only a handful of countries on earth (seven), in the best of circumstances, grew recently at the rate all of Sub-Saharan Africa would need to grow in order to halve poverty by 2015,” they recently wrote in a paper, What’s wrong with the MDGs?

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