Our world contains a stark spectrum. Sayings like “rich become richer, and the poor become poorer” sadly ring true. The world population can live comfortably with the amount of money in circulation. The irony of poverty is so prominent that a country like Sierra Leone, which is rich in diamonds, is among the top 10 poorest countries in the world.

A large chunk of the blame for these situations persisting can be put on the corrupt governments and improper management. Not allowing the people of their own country to prosper in order to fill their own fat pockets.

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” 

— Plutarch, Greek historian

There are barely any countries in the world that do not suffer from poverty. Poverty is a prevalent and dangerous phenomenon that countries around the world need to tackle.

In 2017 nearly 9.2 percent of the world’s population was living below the poverty line, which means that they were getting less than $1.90 per day to sustain themselves.

Coronavirus pandemic has not exactly been favorable to the situation. Rough estimations imply that the COVID-19 pandemic will push approximately 89-115 million people into extreme poverty. Social distancing protocols make it difficult to interact with the necessary people hampering surveys.

Lockdowns prevented the spread of Coronavirus and led to the closure of schools and job loss, hence widespread unemployment. The effects of the lockdown have a strong effect on the population of the poorer countries especially considering the earning prospects of many in low-income nations. The mentioned things are even more true and prevalent for the 10 countries in this list, i.e., 10 of the poorest countries in the world.

Importance of measuring world Poverty

Some people are concerned about the well-being of the people of the world, especially those living in extreme poverty. The people who care tend to do as much as they can to do their part. Various organizations like Concern Worldwide, Oxfam International, and The Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development work towards this noble cause as well.

What measuring the poverty levels does is two-fold; first, it gives you a target number setting a goal for the people working towards it. Second, more importantly, it shows an increase or decrease in the number of people living below poverty. The show of variation of numbers gives us an idea of which poverty reduction strategies work; those that don’t can be discontinued.

Not only for poor countries but measuring poverty also helps developing countries gauge their performance in this fast and transient and evaluate their development strategies. Thus, giving us a more comprehensive look at our performance and helping evaluate if the world is moving on the right track and in the right direction.

 

Measuring Poverty

An individual can be considered poor in many respects. Criteria like income, education, basic amenities, and availability of health services can be considered to determining how poor an individual is. These can be drawn on a parallel scale for countries as well.

The gross Domestic Product (or GDP) of a country is usually the standard metric. These calculations are made more precise by also taking into consideration the differences in living costs and rates of inflation to help better assess an individual’s purchasing power in his or her country, which also reflects the state of a country.

 

The 10 Poorest Countries in the world

Summarized by the various standards by the World Bank, these are the poorest countries in the world.

 

  1. Sierra Leone

A society in a desperate social and economical state burst into a harsh cold war in 1991 and kept at it till 2002. The people’s greed only perpetuated this war, the people wanting the “blood diamonds” through a trade of the illicit gems.

The high levels of corruption and the informal nature of the industry did not do any favours to the locals any economic benefits, making them simmer in the sun and bask in labour and poverty.

The economic part of the socio-economic situation is not very stable for this country. Other than that, this country of 8 million (and rapidly growing population) supports about 75% of its population through small-scale agriculture.

Due to low amount of money in the country has also led to poor infrastructure and a daunting lack of education. As if poverty and struggle were not enough, the country’s people also are faced with other societal issues like gender inequality.

 

  1. South Sudan

Born on the 9th of July 2011, South Sudan is the youngest nation in the world. 11.2 million people populate the land-locked expanse of land  plagued by violence. South Sudan had the potential to be a very rich nation, but the key component in that endeavor, their oil, accounts for almost the entirety of their exports. Falling commodity prices and rising security-related costs thrashed the country’s economy.

Apart from the oil sector, a majority of the population is involved in the agricultural sector. Even this part of the economy is plagued by the disease of violence, preventing farmers from planting or harvesting crops.

Recently the political leaders of South Sudan have signed a ceasefire and power-sharing agreement, which seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel. The government and the opposition parties formed a unity cabinet and have been successful in curbing politically motivated conflicts. The shift away from all the conflict shows that South Sudan may still have an opportunity of lifting itself out of poverty and its people living more prosperous lives.

  1. Liberia

The end of the civil war in 2003 brought along with it peace and stability in Africa’s oldest republic. Despite having experienced stability for a while now, the government has not been able to address the various persisting problems like structural challenges.

The country has faced calamities time and again, the spread of Ebola in 2014 and Coronavirus in 2020. COVID-19 has been especially unkind to struggling people. Along with two dozen countries worldwide, Liberia is on the front line of impending COVID-19 driven food crises compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme.

The people of Liberia, the Liberians, are still looking towards George Weah with eyes brimful of hope, hoping he will be able to bring about change as promised by his program.

 

  1. Mozambique

Mozambique is the perfect example of – blessed by nature, corrupted by man. The country with plenty of arable lands, water, energy, and mineral resources also happens to be conveniently placed, as four of the six neighboring countries are landlocked and depend on Mozambique as a conduit to global trade. Corruption and political instability adversely damage the same country blessed with potential.

Despite showing average GDP growth rates of higher than 5% over the last 10 years, the country continues to be among the poorest in the world. The attacks done by the Islamic insurgent groups in the northern part of the country can also be blamed for the stagnant growth.

 

  1. Malawi

One of Africa’s smallest nations’ per capita GDP went from $975( approx) in 2010 to more than $1,200 last year. These numbers are projected to grow even further and touch $1,500 by 2023. Malawi has greatly improved its economic growth and has judiciously implemented crucial structural reforms. Thanks to the IMF and the World Bank, which have given heavy financial support to a stable and democratic government. These have played a great role in the increase in GDP.

Despite all this progress, the country’s rain-fed-crop economy is vulnerable to weather-related shocks. The benefits of all the progress have reflected in the improving standards of living of the urban citizens. The poor of the county has not seen much of this progress and are still widespread.

 

  1. Niger

The largest nation in West Africa is really in a tight spot. The Sahara desert covers 80% of the landlocked nation’s territory, desertification and climate change are an impending threat to Niger. Food insecurity is also high for small-scale agriculture-dependent nations. The situation will only worsen, for Niger, with the rate at which the population is growing.

  1. Eritrea

This East African nation has a population of 3.5 million and is the world’s least developed country. The demographics of the country are such that approximately 65% of the population lives in rural areas. 80% of the rural people rely on agriculture as their livelihood.

Also read: 10 Ways British Rule Affected India

  1. Democratic Republic of the Congo

A previously Belgia colony, even after gaining independence, the country was rampant with dictatorship, political instability, and constant violence. The election of Felix Antoine Tshiseked Tshilombo as the new president is pushing the bleak times towards becoming paragraphs in history books.

Even after the war had ended, over 60% of the country’s population of 89 million lived on less than $2 per day. With little help from the then-president, a major portion of the population living below the poverty line.

  1. Central African Republic

The inhabitants of the Central African Republic are poor people living in a rich country. CAR’s lands are rich in oil, uranium, gold, and diamonds. Despite all these riches, the country held the title of “Poorest Country in the World” for most of the decade.

The newly democratically elected president has done his best to progress the country and worked towards national reconstruction. The central African Republic still has a long way to go with 75% of the poverty line population. The “long way to improvement” is already being trodden upon, with the revival of the agricultural & mining sector, and the diamonds’ sales picking up; the timber industry in the lead.

 

  1. Burundi

The Hutu-Tutsi ethnic conflict and civil war plague the small landlocked country, Burundi. 90% of the country’s population, which amounts to approximately 12 million citizens. The majority of this population relies on subsistence agriculture and living on less than $1.25 a day or less.

The World Bank also brought to light the fact that resources like water, electricity, and sanitation have very low accessibility. The lack of infrastructure, indigenous corruption, and security concerns only further aggravate the persisting poverty.