Sunday, October 06, 2013

Pan-Africa Survey Shows Little Sign Of Reduced Poverty

Johannesburg — African leaders, foreign investors and formal indicators of economic growth may say that "Africa is rising" - but most ordinary Africans don't agree.

A pioneering new survey of public opinion in 34 countries across the continent suggests that the relatively high average growth in gross domestic product (GDP) reported in recent years is not reflected in the experiences of most citizens. An average of one in five Africans still often goes without food, clean water or medical care. Only one in three think economic conditions in their country are good. Fifty-three percent say they are "fairly bad" or "very bad".
The survey suggests that either the benefits of growth are being disproportionately channelled to a wealthy elite or that official statistics are overstating average growth rates (or possibly a combination of both).

The survey was directed by Afrobarometer, a research project coordinated by independent institutions in Ghana, Benin, Kenya and South Africa, with partners in 31 other countries. Afrobarometer says the margin of error in its face-to-face public opinion surveys is around two percent. It has been surveying public opinion in 12 countries since 1999, but has grown to include 35 countries for the period 2011 to 2013.

The results of the latest survey - released in Johannesburg on Tuesday - are the first to reflect public opinion across such a wide swathe of the continent. Interviews for the survey were carried out between October 2011 and June this year.
Speaking at the release of the results, Boniface Dulani of the University of Malawi, the project's operational field manager, said they indicated that three-quarters of Africans thought their governments were doing badly in closing the gap between rich and poor. Nevertheless, most remained optimistic about the future - with west and north Africans more optimistic than east Africans, and southern Africans "somewhere in the middle".

 In the 16 countries surveyed over a period of a decade, there was little evidence for systematic reduction of the poverty experienced by ordinary citizens, despite average GDP growth rates of 4.8 percent, the brief added.

 Countries included in the 2013 results are: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Results from Ethiopia, the 35th country to be surveyed, are still being compiled.

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