Investigating Chronic Poverty in West Africa
CPRC Working Paper No. 28
43 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2011
Date Written: April 1, 2003
This review seeks to examine the dimensions of poverty in general and chronic poverty in particular in West African countries. The preparation of poverty reduction strategy papers by several countries in the sub-region as part of the HIPC initiative has created an incentive for the collection of nationally representative data on living conditions. Thus in a number of West African countries nationally representative survey data has recently become available. Very few, however have the large longitudinal or panel data sets on living standards. Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire appear to be the only exceptions in the sub-region. The West African sub-region comprises of seventeen countries, fourteen of which UNCTAD considers as 'least-developed', with a variety of ethnicity, culture and traditions. It is also a sub-region currently scarred by internal strife and civil war. It has a population of approximately 250 million people, with just under half of this population living in Nigeria. West Africa consists largely of low income countries, with a median Gross National Income per capita in 2000 of US$330, suggesting widespread or generalised poverty. On the basis of the purchasing power parity US$2 a day poverty line the incidence of poverty amongst ten West African countries that are least developed ranged between 60% and 94% during 1995-2000. This evidence of widespread severe poverty in the region is suggestive of a substantial proportion of the population being poor over extended periods of time.
Keywords: international comparisons, data, West Africa
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