The purpose of this essay is to provide reasons for the high levels of poverty in Africa and to also discuss strategies that have been designed to help reduce these levels.
Source A is a Chloroplethic map that illustrates the poverty rates across the globe. The map shows the differences through colour shading. This particular map is coloured with different shadings of yellow, to indicate the dissimilarities in poverty percentages. The lighter shades of yellow on the map indicate low levels of poverty. For example, Russia (number 15) is yellow and its poverty rate is 0.3%. Most of the map is coloured yellow, indicating that a large majority of the world does not have a serious poverty problem. The darker shades on the map, such as orange and brown, represent high levels of poverty. These darker colours are applied to a small cluster covering the African regions. Mali (number 16) has the highest rates of poverty at 79%.
As seen on the map, the higher poverty rates fluctuate more toward the African regions. There is a clear poverty difference visible, and this is due to the North/South Divide. The North/South is the division of developed and developing countries. Countries that are considered to be wealthy and developed fall under the “North” and countries that qualify as poor and underdeveloped are put into the “South”. Countries that are in the North include North America, Western Europe and some parts of Asia. The South holds Africa, Latin America and the rest of Asia. 25% of the total global population live in the North of the divide but they control over 80% of the global income (https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-is-the-north-south-divide.html, 2017). Much of the individuals living in the North have enough access to food, shelter and a functioning educational system. They are well developed because they are heavily industrialised, are politically stable, democratic and have strong technological infrastructure. The South, however, are not as lucky. ¾ of the total world population live in the South and they only have access to 1/5 of the world’s income (https://youtu.be/2WQrY4xMfks, 2017). The South have suffered a historical lack of trade due to the colonial rule that occurred from 1870 to 1900. (http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay-colonization-of-africa.html, 2011). Countries in the North have invaded many of the African countries in the South and exploited them for their raw materials. The South have had no control over the exports and imports, and thus, received very little profit or income. 5% of their population have access to sufficient food and shelter (https://www.worldhunger.org/africa-hunger-poverty-facts-2018/, 2018).
One of the physical reasons for Africa’s status as a developing country is their land. Africa is one of the driest continents in the world, with the Sahara Desert taking up almost a third of the continent. The areas that have the most residents experience both dry and wet seasons every year. The rainfall regimes vary in length and severity every year. The area at the South Sahara, called Sahel, experiences dry seasons that have become longer and more pronounced over the past 30 years. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Sahel suffered a long period of drought and they only experienced rain for one year throughout that period. (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2013/453521/, 2012). The dry periods prove to be quite difficult for Africa as those living there are reliant on their agricultural and natural resources. When droughts like this occur, it has environmental effects. Some of the effects that come from this are severe environmental degradation, declining soil fertility, deforestation, soil erosion and desertification. A second physical reason that contributes to Africa’s poverty was the El Nino event of 1997. From 1997 to 1998, Africa had experienced the worst El Nino effect of the century. An El Nino is “a periodic warming of tropical waters in the Pacific Ocean” (https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/ocean/el-nino, 2018). It affects weather patterns globally and usually occurs every five to seven years. When Africa was hit by this, the Horn of Africa took most of the devastation. They were hit with heavy monsoon rains and floods. Somalia’s popular banana industry, which was their second most important foreign exchange earner, was completely swept away and the plantations were waterlogged. Zimbabwe also suffered as their maize crops were destroyed and this was a source of food for many, so it proved to be a very serious consequence.
Health is a severe human factor for Africa. Poor living conditions, lack of clean water and sanitation, lack of nutrition and limited access to good healthcare are all reasons leading to why Africa has a serious health problem and why the life expectancy sits at 61 years. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/274511/life-expectancy-in-africa/, 2018). Many African’s are still being infected with diseases that have already been eradicated and cured elsewhere in the world as their healthcare has been neglected, the Government does not fully serve its citizens and they have become heavily reliant on irregular foreign aid. Because they do not have sufficient access nor knowledge of modern medicine, they do not trust it so spiritual healers have became more popular. Africa has a high mortality rate for HIV/AIDS and it takes 147 lives per 100,000 a year. Africa’s HIV/AIDS problem is only getting worse and predictions are that the new cases will rise to 30 million a year by 2022. (https://borgenproject.org/10-facts-about-hivaids-in-africa/, 2013)
Colonisation was another human factor that impacted Africa. During the 19th century, many African territories were invaded by former European colonial powers. The colonies were created for the sole benefit of the colonial powers rather than the locals as they were viewed as another natural resource to take advantage of. Africa’s wealth was a primary resource as they had raw minerals, tropical hardwoods and crops to sell. Africa was exploited for consumption and use, and their materials were being exporting in raw form which meant little profit for them. Fertile land that was previously used to grow crops were now overrun with plantations of crop for export. The economic development of Africa was primarily motivated by European profit. The infrastructure of railways and roads that were built to link areas of production to coastal ports for exports. Despite gaining their independence, Africa was not prepared for it. They had a poor economy, no educated or skilled labour and no health facilities. Civil wars broke out as tribes and clans fought each other over land. Financial aid from the countries that previously colonised them was hard to get. During the Cold War, Russia and the US helped Africa in exchange for access to their natural resources which led to mass corruption. China owns 40% of Sudan’s oil production, while Sudan exports approximately 50-60% of their domestically produced oil to China. (https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/oil-and-darfurs-blood-chinas-thirst-for-sudans-oil-2332-0761-1000189.php?aid=69390, 2016).
Aid for Africa is a charity that works in Sub-Saharan Africa. (https://www.aidforafrica.org/about-us/where-we-work/). The charity is dedicated to tackling the challenges that face Africa. They do many things, from providing books to the children to introducing new medical strategies that aim to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. Aid for Africa first began it’s work in 2004 with the aspiration of changing lives but quickly focused their attention toward the education of young African girls. They believe that when a young girl is given the opportunity to attend school, the cycle of poverty breaks for her and her family. Since the establishment, Aid for Africa has succeeded in partnering with over 60 non-profit organisations to create an alliance and work on their dream of helping those in need. Because this charity has partnerships with over 60 non-profit organisations, it allows their cause to be spread further and reach many more people, while also promoting the causes of the charities that support them. However, there is always the risk and fear of charities manipulating and lying to their donors. Some charities lead their donors to believe that their money is directly helping the cause, which is not always true. In 2013, Marie Curie Cancer Care were in the news for a fundraising scam. A group of people were found guilty of posing as collectors for the charity and keeping all the money donated. It gave the charity a bad reputation and made donors warier of giving to their cause. (https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/gang-found-guilty-of-marie-curie-cancer-care-fundraising-scam.html, 2013)
A second charity that fights to reduce poverty in Africa is Action Aid. They work in both rural and urban communities across Africa. The main cause for this charity is ensuring that women and girls receive the rights that they are entitled to. Action Aid say that less opportunities are available for those in poverty. On the official site, Action Aid say that – “from the moment they’re born, many girls are seen and treated as less than boys”. Gender inequality is their main cause and they support women’s rights. Their strategies include the launch of a 5-year plan in 2017. The 5-year plan has 3 main aims: to reduce the risk of violence against females, fight for women’s equal rights for economic opportunities and to prioritise females’ rights and leaderships in economic crises. They say that to achieve these goals, they will raise money through investments and support humanitarian action. So far, their work has worked quite well, and they achieved a lot. Africa is such a popular topic when referring to charity and foreign aid. There are a lot of charities that are all in support for Africa. Because there are so many, it raises a lot more awareness about the subjects and it would also raise a lot more in donations. For example, Save the Children, UNICEF and Action Aid are all very popular charities that are well known. They aim to receive support for Africa and would provide a lot more attention to Africa. In addition to this, some online donation pages can be faked, and the money would be essentially stolen. In 2005, following the effects of Hurricane Katrina, more than 4000 websites were set up that appeared to be donation pages for the victims of the hurricane. The American Red Cross page was used as a disguise and all the money donated did not make it to the victims.