It’s hard for some people in developed countries to understand the severity of global poverty, harder still for any of us in the western world to conceive of living on only one dollar a day. One dollar is something that most of us barely register, although it’s an amount that’s rarely taken for granted by the millions of people living in developing nations that are in the process of recovering from political, economic and social upheaval. Many of the countries who live on less than a dollar today are slowly but surely improving as they establish new industries and build better infrastructures – but the path to prosperity and affluence is, clearly, a long and treacherous one.
It never hurts to put things in perspective for the more fortunate and comfortable among us. With that in mind, we’ve gathered a comprehensive list of fifteen countries with populations who, according to research conducted by The World Bank, largely live on less than one dollar a day each. They are ranked by the percentage of the respective populations who survive on this miniscule amount. For some of the countries, the percentage is shocking.
15. Zimbabwe – 36%
Zimbabwe is located in Central Africa and faces consistent political, economic and social challenges. The growth of their economy is negatively impacted by chronic problems with their infrastructure, disproportionate wages, insecure exports and vulnerabilities in their banking industry. A staggering seventy-two percent of Zimbabwe’s population is considered poor. However, poverty is a much greater concern in rural areas, where eighty-four percent of the population is classified as poor.
14. Nepal – 37%
Even with Nepal’s burgeoning tourist industry, the per capita income is about $750 among a population of 30 million. The country is among the poorest in the world and ranks 157th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. Their economic growth is hindered, among many other factors, by the lack of basic infrastructure. Access to postsecondary education is another major challenge in Nepal.
13. Mozambique – 38%
Mozambique has proven to be a rapidly developing country in recent years with seven percent economic growth in 2013 because of various new service industries. However, the strengthening economy has done very little to create sustainable employment or reduce the poverty rate. Among many things, Mozambique will have to develop their agricultural industries much more because this is the industry which employs eighty percent of the workforce.
12. Lesotho – 43%
Surrounded by the Republic of South Africa, Lesotho has a population of close to two million. The country does well in the agricultural and mining sectors with a six percent growth between 2012 and 2013. They have also been making investments in infrastructure and housing. The unemployment rate is steady at twenty-four percent. Although poverty has decreased in urban centres, it has steadily increased in rural areas – a major problem in developing nations.
11. India – 44%
India is one of the most populated countries in the world with over 1 billion people. It has the fourth-largest economy, but has some of the highest numbers of poverty-stricken people. One in three people lack basic infrastructure such as all-weather roads, highways and efficient public transportation. More than 300 million people are not connected to the national electricity grid and the manufacturing sector is underdeveloped.
10. Ghana – 45%
Ghana’s economy has slowed down in the last two years, but shows considerable strength moving forward. This is partly due to the development of oil and gas production that is planned to commence in 2016. Consumer inflation has increased since 2013 due to non-food inflation and natural changes in climate. Some of the challenges Ghana faces in 2014 is their increased account deficits and economic growth reduced by less than one percent.
9. Madagascar – 49%
Madagascar relies heavily on their mining industry that has been responsible for a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth of over two percent in 2012. But the GDP growth is not enough to compensate for the growth of their population. As a result, the GDP continually declines as the population increases. Madagascar has been generally unsuccessful in reducing the country’s extreme level of poverty.
8. Sierra Leone – 57%
Due to their production of iron, Sierre Leone has grown their GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by six percent in the last three years. They are progressing with more political reformation to reduce the corruption in the nation while improving access to free health care. However, at sixty percent, youth unemployment is still very high, and general unemployment is still enormously high in comparison to developed countries.
7. The Gambia – 59%
The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa, but it’s ripe with economic and political strife. It has shown some improvement over the last decade in reducing the poverty rate, but still faces the considerable challenges of meeting the Millennium Development Goals as set by the World Bank. With a population over almost 2 million, they do very well in agricultural sectors but still have one of the highest debt ceilings in the world.
6. Burkina Faso – 61%
Burkina Faso is located in the sub-Saharan desert of Africa. Their income per capita is extremely low at $635. With almost 17 million people in 2013, it has a very high youth population of sixty percent. Their natural climate makes it extremely difficult for their dominating agricultural industry to flourish and international changes in oil prices often create irreversible crises in their economy.
5. Niger – 61%
With over one million square kilometres of land, Niger is home to a growing population of sixteen million. Niger is also one of the world’s poorest countries with a poverty rate of fifty-six percent. The unstable natural environment is marked by floods, droughts and food shortages. Niger is also one of the most dangerous countries to live. The citizens’ social and economic health have improved in the last two decades but still remain very low in an international context.
4. Zambia – 64%
Zambia has shown significant improvement in their middle-class income and political activities over the last decade. However, it still ranks among one of the most poverty stricken countries in the world. Sixty-two percent of the population lives below the poverty line and forty-two percent are thought to be living in extreme conditions of poverty. Urban centres and cities have better economic stability than the rural centres – poverty rates can reach as high as seventy percent in rural areas that are dominated by agriculture.
3. Central African Republic – 67%
The Central African Republic has a population of over 4 million. Known for their political strife, major humanitarian crises have, unsurprisingly, negatively impacted the country’s social and economic health over recent years. With leaders becoming exiled and rebel forces becoming stronger, 1,000 people were killed in 2013. Without a stable environment to allow for growth, the poverty rate is among the highest in the world at sixty-two percent.
2. Nigeria – 70%
Nigeria is also situated in West Africa, with a population of 158 million. It accounts for a little under half of West Africa’s population at forty-seven percent and is among the world’s largest oil and natural gas exporters. However, with the decreased oil revenue and increased government budgets, there’s considerable strain on the country’s overall economy. With a high level of natural resources, there is a lot of potential for economic growth but mismanagement and corruption have not allowed the country to make the most of their natural gifts.
1. Mali – 73%
The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa. It’s economy is very unstable and, as a result, is highly vulnerable to economic fluctuations in the prices of their commodities. The onset of climate charge over the years has negatively impacted the nation’s food supply, has increased poverty and impacted the general stability of the country. Their population is large, but very sparsely spread over a mostly desert landscape.