Africa is internationally known as one of the poorest continents on Earth. But what many people may not know are the effects of poverty in Africa—including hunger, disease, and a lack of basic necessities. Here are 10 quick facts about poverty in Africa:
1. 75 percent of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa. This statistic includes historically poor regions like Zimbabwe, Liberia, and Ethiopia. For the past two years, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s second largest country, has also been ranked the poorest in the world.
2. In 2010, 414 million people were living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 or less a day. According to the World Bank, those living on $1.25-a-day accounted for 48.5 percent of the population in that region in 2010.
3. Approximately 1 in 3 people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) estimated that 239 million people (around 30 percent of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry in 2010. This is the highest percentage of any region in the world. In addition, the UN Millennium Project reported that over 40 percent of all Africans are unable to regularly obtain sufficient food.
4. 547 million people live without electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, a staggering 80 percent of the population relies on biomass products, such as wood, charcoal, and dung, in order to cook.
5. Over 500 million Africans suffer from waterborne diseases. According to the UN Millennium Project, more than 50 percent of Africans have a water-related illness like cholera.
6. Every year, sub-Saharan Africa loses $28.4 billion to water and sanitation problems. This amount accounts for approximately 5 percent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP)—exceeding the total amount of foreign aid sent to sub-Saharan Africa in 2003.
7. 38 percent of the world’s refugees are located in Africa. Many of these 13.5 million refugees and displaced persons have lost their homes due to widespread violence and conflict.
8. Fewer than 20 percent of African women have access to education. Uneducated African women are twice as likely to contract AIDS and 50 percent less likely to immunize their children. Meanwhile, the children of African women with at least five years of schooling have a 40 percent higher chance of survival.
9. Women in sub-Saharan Africa are over 230 times more likely to die during childbirth or pregnancy than women in North America. Approximately 1 in 16 women living in sub-Saharan African will die during childbirth or pregnancy. Only 1 in 3,700 women in North America will.
10. More than 1 million African children die every year from malaria. Malarial deaths in Africa alone account for 90 percent of all malaria deaths worldwide. 80 percent of these victims are African children. The UN Millennium Project has calculated that a child in Africa dies from malaria every 30 seconds.
– Jordanna Packtor