How to Tackle Poverty in Africa to Improve Living Standard

Answer to the question of how to tackle poverty in Africa to improve living standard is no other than the long list of poverty reduction approaches that we are going to be highlighting in this content. Poverty reduction can be attained by these few steps which are stimulating economic growth to increase incomes and expand employment opportunities for the poor.

It can also be an act of undertaking economic and institutional reforms to enhance efficiency and improve the utilization of resources, or prioritizing the basic needs of the poor in national development policies, et cetera.

You see, the existence of extreme poverty in several developing countries is a critical challenge that needs to be addressed urgently because of its adverse implications on human wellbeing. Its manifestations include lack of adequate food and nutrition, lack of access to adequate shelter, lack of access to safe drinking water, low literacy rates, high infant and maternal mortality, high rates of unemployment, and a feeling of vulnerability and disempowerment.

How to Tackle Poverty in Africa to Improve Living Standard

However, some viable approaches on how to tackle poverty in Africa to improve living standard, apart from the ones suggested above, can also be considered effective the following forms:

  • Promoting microfinance programs to remove constraints to innovation, entrepreneurship, and small scale business
  • Developing and improving marketing systems to improve production
  • Providing incentives to the private sector
  • Implementing affirmative actions such as targeted cash transfers

These are to ensure that the social and economic benefits of poverty reduction initiatives reach the demographics that might otherwise be excluded. Well, poverty is a serious economic and social problem that afflicts a large proportion of the world’s population and manifests itself in diverse forms such as lack of income and productive assets to ensure sustainable livelihoods, chronic hunger and malnutrition, homelessness, lack of durable goods, disease, lack of access to clean water, lack of education, low life expectancy, social exclusion and discrimination, high levels of unemployment, high rate of infant and maternal mortality, and lack of participation in decision making.

But below are some of the steps to take in order to reduce or tackle it out of the corridors of African social life:

Economic and Institutional Reforms

An important step in reducing poverty in developing countries is the implementation of economic and institutional reforms to create conditions that attract investment, enhance competitiveness, ensure increased efficiency in the use of resources, stimulate economic growth, and create jobs. If well designed and implemented, these reforms can be instrumental in strengthening governance and reducing endemic corruption and poor accountability that have contributed to the poor economic performance of several developing countries.

Some reforms that are needed include the strengthening of land tenure systems to encourage risk-taking and investment in productive income-generating activities; improving governance to ensure greater inclusivity, transparency and accountability; reducing the misuse of public resources and unproductive expenditures; ensuring a greater focus on the needs and priorities of the poor; maintaining macroeconomic stability and addressing structural constraints to accelerating growth.

Improving the Marketing Systems

Another sure approach or step on how to tackle poverty in Africa to improve living standard is by improving the marketing system. The best way to reduce poverty is to raise the productive capacity of the poor. Efficient marketing systems are vital in enabling the poor to increase their production because they permit the delivery of products to markets at competitive prices that result in increased incomes. This is also the reason why developing countries need to explore ways of expanding export markets.

The plight of cotton, rice, tea, coffee, and cashew nut farmers in Kenya demonstrates the importance of improving the marketing systems. Weaknesses and inefficiencies in the marketing of these commodities has resulted in the impoverishment of the farmers who face problems such as damage to their harvests, low commodity prices and thus low profits and incomes, and exploitation by middlemen.

By improving the marketing system, the growers of these commodities can benefit from better storage that would cushion them from price fluctuations, the pooling of their resources that would enable a reduction of their costs, and the processing of their products to enable value-addition and an improvement on the returns.

Promoting Microfinance Institutions and Programs

Lack of finance is a major constraint to the establishment of small scale businesses and other income generating activities in impoverished communities in several developing countries. Through microfinance institutions, this constraint can be removed and the much-needed credit provided to small businesses that are often unable to access credit from formal financial institutions.

In this way, micro-credit can be instrumental in stimulating economic activity, creating jobs in the informal sector, increasing household incomes, and reducing poverty has noted that microfinance institutions have good potential to reach the rural poor and to address the basic issues of rural development where formal financial institutions have not been able to make a significant impact.

Some advantages of obtaining credit from microfinance institutions include less stringent conditions with regard to providing collateral thus easing access to credit; the possibility of the poor obtaining small amounts of loans more frequently thus enabling the credit needs for diverse purposes and at shorter time intervals to be met; reduced transaction costs; flexibility of loan repayment; and an overall improvement in loan repayment.

 Cash/Income Transfer Programs

The fight against poverty needs to consider the fact that among the poor are those who cannot actively participate in routine economic activities and are therefore likely to suffer exclusion from the benefits of economic growth. This category of the poor include the old and infirm, the sick and those afflicted by various debilitating conditions, families with young children, and those who have been displaced by war and domestic violence.

Special affirmative actions that transfer incomes to these groups are required to provide for their basic needs and ensure more equity in poverty reduction.

In impoverished regions where children contribute to the livelihoods of their families by supplying agricultural labor and participating in informal businesses, income transfer programs can provide families with financial relief and enable regular school attendance by children. Such investment in the education of the children is vital in improving their human capital and prospects for employment and can therefore play an important role in long term poverty reduction.

Stimulating inclusive economic growth

Economic growth is vital in enabling impoverished communities to utilize their resources to increase both their output and incomes and thus break the poverty trap and be able to provide for their basic needs. However, for economic growth to be effective in reducing poverty, it needs to be both inclusive and to occur at a rate that is higher than the rate of population growth.

The fact that agriculture is the dominant economic sector in most poor communities implies that efforts to combat extreme poverty need to be directed towards increasing agricultural production and productivity. Some concrete ways for achieving this overall goal include promoting the adoption of high yielding crop varieties and use of complementary inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides; intensifying the use of land through technological improvements such as increased use of irrigation where water is a constraint to agricultural production; and, adoption of post-harvesting measures that reduce the loss of agricultural produce. These measures are costly and are likely to be unaffordable to poor households. Their increased adoption requires the provision of cheap credit on terms that are flexible and aligned to the unique circumstances of the poor.

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