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Poverty in Africa

Jul 17, 2008, 6:59 AM | Article By: Tayawoza Audu, Fajara, The Gambia.

Poverty is a state of not having enough money to take care of basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. In other words it is a deficiency or deprivation. Poverty is a social problem that depends on the environment you find yourself in. For example poverty in Europe may not be poverty in Africa. This could be due to the level of development these continents have reached.

Africa is a continent known for its deep history and rich culture but is also known as a continent battling against poverty and disease. Most Africans in rural areas are engaged in either subsistence or commercial farming, but these people cannot be regarded as an average group of people because commercial farmers grow crops and rear animals for sale and so it makes them dependent on people to buy their farm produce.

Subsistence farmers grow crops and rear animals for sustenance of themselves and their families and while he might be able to provide food for his family he might not be able to provide other basic needs like shelter and clothing. Going into the causes of poverty in Africa: our African culture and beliefs have also driven some people to poverty. Take for example a culture that considers giving birth to many children as a sign of blessing from God. This belief could drive someone to poverty because with a large number of children it becomes a problem to cater for each of their needs. Also lack of education leads to poverty.

Some parents don't see the importance of educating their children while some don't have enough money to send their children to school. Such parents sometimes prefer sending their kids to hawk on the streets, an activity that doesn't save them from their state of being poor. Natural disaster brings about poverty, for example the epidemic of bird flu that some time ago affected poultry; it affected not only poultry but also poultry farmers. These farmers lost income at that time because of the reduction in the consumption of poultry and those that were badly affected might have been driven into poverty. Aside from epidemics other natural disasters include floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes.

So also conflicts between and within countries cause poverty. This is so because lives and property will be lost and some people may lose the breadwinner of their family or property such as house and this may lead to poverty. In addition unemployment and laziness makes one limited in satisfying his needs which means poverty for such an individual. Furthermore poverty has its own effects on an individual and on society, which I will highlight below. Poverty leads to child labour which will expose the child to the dangers of being kidnapped, raped or other accidents.

It could also give an individual the idea of prostitution which exposes an individual to sexually transmitted diseases and loss of self-respect and dignity. Poverty leads to an increase in the crime rate such as armed robbery, making a fake of one's documents, selling of hard drugs and this brings about discomfort to the society at large. Malnutrition is also a negative effect of poverty which could lead-to ill health. Having looked at the causes and negative effects of poverty, I would like to give some possible solutions to this social problem. Talking of a peaceful society, it is observed that work takes place, so also a stable society has a stable economy, that is to say that we Africans should try to resolve all disputes both within and outside our various countries.

Governments should provide free education at least at primary and secondary level; government should also encourage the uneducated ones through skills appreciation programs such as teaching them how to sew to make them more useful to themselves. Parents should be enlightened on why they should educate their children. We should look for a better way to tap our resources either by providing more machines or even talking to countries that can assist in this aspect. Small and medium scale companies should be encouraged to extract, process and produce our goods instead of exporting them for processing and buying them back at an expensive price.

Parents should be educated on the importance of family planning. International organisations can also partake in the reduction of poverty for example the United Nations, African Union among others. In conclusion, having discussed this social problem, it is left for us Africans to see to its alleviation.

We should all come together, drop all grudges and co-operate as brothers to help one another in our various deprived states. This could be achieved by forming our own international organisations like ECOWAS and the AU to help economically, socially, physically or in any other way possible.  With this strategy in place, our continent will grow and poverty will gradually be eliminated.