Nigeria is now the nation with the greatest number of people enduring extreme poverty following data released by the World Poverty Clock collected by the Brookings Institute. In May, the country overtook India, which has had the world’s highest number of people living in extreme poverty for decades, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians now living on less than $1.90 a day. That’s almost half the population.
The announcement indicates a defining geographical shift taking place amongst the world’s poorest people. According to the report, “extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall. In fact, by the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today”.
The report details how relatively recent economic turmoil has contributed to the increase in the nations poverty rate. CNN describes the situation further writing; “despite being the largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria has struggled to translate its resource wealth into rising living standards. A slump in oil prices and a sharp fall in oil production saw the country’s economy slide into recession in 2016.” The data analyzed to produce the projections came from both household surveys and updated forecasts of economic growth from individual countries produced by the International Monetary Funds’ World Economic Outlook. The Brookings Report also details an alarming reality that Africans are now accounting for “about two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor and are projected to account for nine-tenths by 2030” unless urgent action is taken now.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Homi Kharas, director of the global economy and development program at the Brookings Institute commented, “it’s a good news story for India, coupled with some caveats, and it’s a real wake-up call for the African continent”. According to the architects of the report, “India currently has 70.6 million people living in extreme poverty, but the number of extreme poor is dropping by 44 people a minute.” Their projections are also indicating that “potentially by 2021, fewer than 3% of India’s population will live in extreme poverty.”
However, extreme poverty in Africa is now reaching critical levels with the report detailing “fourteen out of eighteen countries in the world where the number of extreme poor is rising are in Africa and extreme poverty is increasingly becoming an African phenomenon.” For a country with a rich amount of resources, it is extremely disturbing that Nigeria’s poverty rate is growing. Another crucial reason for this is that Nigeria is dealing with a corruption epidemic. The latest Corruption Perception Index scored it 28/100 with a rank of No.148 out of 180 countries surveyed, according to the Nigerian-based Vanguard newspaper. Unless effective and sweeping reforms are implemented to stamp out corruption and allow the wealth raised from its rich amount of natural resources to trickle back down to its poorest citizens, it appears that the poverty rate in Nigeria will only continue to become more extreme.