India is no longer the global poverty capital! Nigeria has overtaken India and the Democratic Republic of the Congo would soon displace India from the number two spot also!! In India, about 44 people are coming out of extreme poverty every minute. In contrast, Nigeria is pushing 6 people into extreme poverty every minute.
Nigeria Displaced India from No 1 Position in May 2018
Start of New Poverty Narrative!
For decades, widespread poverty has been the main identification of India. Its struggle against extreme poverty is coming to an end. India is no longer home to the largest number of poor people in the world. India has been displaced from the top spot by Nigeria in May 2018 and very soon the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would again knock off India from its newly acquired 2nd position too!!
This is the finding of a US based think tank, Brookings Institution. It estimated that at the end of May 2018, Nigeria had about 87 million (44% population) people living in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million (about 5% population). What’s more, the gap is widening. Extreme poverty has been defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 a day. Although it’s a very coarse indicator of poverty, it does have some indicative value.
It marks a profound shift in the global poverty landscape.
Another heartening fact is that India is now among countries where extreme poverty is falling; Nigeria is in the opposite category. In India, around 44 people escape poverty every minute, while average 6 people are pushed into extreme poverty in Nigeria. Since Nigerian population is growing at a high pace, it should become World’s third largest country by 2050 after China and India. Nigerians need to both reduce their population growth and make the economy grow faster.
Brookings also suggests that the current extreme poverty rate of around 5.3% could go below 3% by 2022 and eliminate it altogether by 2030. A recent report India is Middle Income Now also pointed out that the Brookings study used the NSSO 2011/12 data. With the latest NSSO 2017/18 data that are likely to be released in the coming months, India’s ground performance is likely to show a much better picture, implying that 44 per minute could be actually more that 70 per minute!!
World Poverty Clock
The findings are based on the World Poverty Clock which is updated each April and October, to accommodate newest household surveys. Globally, about 725 million people lived in extreme poverty at the beginning of 2016; it reduced to 647 million by September 1, 2017. The study estimated that in order to meet the SDG goal by 2030, around 92 people must come out of extreme poverty every minute. The current rate of poverty reduction is about 70 per minute.
The poverty-change map on the left gives the current scenario. In 18 countries poverty is rising; of which 14 are in Africa. Thus, Africa may be on the way to become world’s future poverty hub. It already accounts for over two-third global extreme poverty. If current rates persist, 90% of the World’s poorest will be living on the African continent by 2030.
According to the World Bank, in 1990 around 1.85 billion people were living in extreme poverty. It represented 35% of the then global population of 5.3 billion. Much of this reduction happened in Asia, first in places such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam. In recent years, this trend has picked up in India. It means now Africa would be on focus in all poverty debates. Today, 640 million extreme poor in 2017 represent less than 10% of current global population of around 7.6 billion. It is a significant improvement, but now the bulk of the global poverty is concentrated in African countries.
Need for Cautious Optimism
Despite the optimistic picture presented by the study, it must be remembered that poverty is an issue of human suffering that can’t be condensed into money terms. Moreover, poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon. Therefore, a more realistic picture of the situation should be gathered from a more comprehensive poverty measure such as the multidimensional poverty index 2017. The latest MPI calculations estimated a much higher number of global poor – about 1.45 billion. Newer NSSO data may also bring this number down – that could be closer to the true picture.
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