Poverty, Inequality, and Social Development in Africa


Poverty is comparable to, but distinguishable from, inequality; the latter focuses on the entire allocation of well-being, while the former is only associated with the bottom end of the apportionment (people living below impoverishment line). Economic inequality is frequently found in connection with other structural disparities experienced by marginalized people. The disparity is categorized and identified through factors such as sexuality, impairment, nationality, or race. This paper will discuss the three subjects of poverty, inequality, and social development in Africa and time deliberate on their causes and impacts.

Poverty in Africa

There are numerous causes of high poverty on the African continent, some of which are inextricably linked. The following are some of the leading causes of impoverishment in this region that are instigating misery to millions of people.

Population increase

Despite multiple information and intervention initiatives, the number of inhabitants in this part of the world is rising rapidly while at the same time food production is declining at an alarming rate (Odusola, 2017). Developmental achievement and economic expansion cannot maintain with this trend, and as a result, an increasing number of people live in squalor.

Conflict and Economic Turmoil

Consequently, the majority of the world’s wars are fought in poor regions, such as conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Mali, Somalia, and Nigeria (Odusola, 2017). The result of this is impoverishment of the populations involved, which is caused by economic and social instability brought about by these wars. Subsequently, agricultural production generally comes to a halt in crisis-affected areas. Thus, since this is the backbone of the African economy, the consequences are severe. Furthermore, many citizens either flee, are forcefully displaced, or are reliant heavily on external assistance. As a consequence of these conflicts, poverty in Africa is rising.

Change in Climate

For a long period, adverse change in climate has also been wreaking havoc on the African continent in recent decades, causing severe flooding and droughts that have led in crop failures (Odusola, 2017). As a result, this area is experiencing frequent hunger problems and famine with East Africa and the Sahel being badly affected (Odusola, 2017). The destruction to property, land and infrastructure leaves the populations vulnerable to drought and hunger.


In Africa, sicknesses, including AIDS, malaria, and Ebola, are also a concern and an outcome of impoverishment. Illnesses spread rapidly and cannot be handled in many areas due to a lack of education and insufficient health care facilities and programs (Odusola, 2017). The demographics’ average lifespan is declining, while the number of orphans is expanding. Labor shortages are especially noticeable in agriculture, resulting in lower food security.

Inappropriate Agricultural infrastructure

Moreover, from roadways, water sources, irrigation systems, warehouses, farm equipment – agricultural development lacks infrastructure and competence in many African countries. That is why the private sector is critical in combating poverty. Wealthy nations have also developed oppressive trading frameworks by insulating their markets with costly agricultural levies and massively subsidizing their product manufacturing (Thebe, 2017). As a result, food production on the African continent is slowed, allowing it to suffer from the start. Due to their regulations, wealthy nations from the West other prosperous countries contribute to Africa’s deprivation.

Inequality in Africa

Disparities in Africa vary by country, but the most obvious difference is the forces that influence them. Inequality can be caused by a lack of land access, resources, unequal tax systems, increased susceptibility to undesirable international markets, massive corruption, and dynastic distribution of public resources (Carr-Hill, 2017). Whatever a nation’s particular heritage and conditions, several interventions, such as boosting profitability among local producers and maintaining women’s access to land, have proved particularly successful in addressing disparities throughout the region. Other measures include overturning bias in services and economic prospects, supporting labor-intensive industrial sectors, establishing minimum wages. Lastly is the bolstering capacities to prevent the rich from tax evasion, implementing solid programs and policies, and putting and averting all forms of discrimination (Carr-Hill, 2017). Even though gender disparities exist in all nations, they are earnest in Africa, and seem to be usually overestimated in most traditional metrics.

How Poverty and Inequality Affect Social Development

In Africa, the eventual level of unevenness affects the efficiency of development to reduce poverty because more efficient use of capital and assets offers the underprivileged fewer means and prospects to generate wealth. Moreover, inequality harms economic growth by limiting educational opportunities for children from low-income families, reducing socialization, and impeding creative thinking (Roelen, 2017). It also has an impact on how people perceive those around them and their sense of happiness.

Moreover, people in poor countries are less inclined to trust one another or participate in social or civic activities. This occurrence results in lack of economic mobility due to little or no commitment or participation in developmental activities. Furthermore, poverty has a detrimental effect on the well-being, social, mental, and intellectual ability, behavior, and academic performance of African children (Roelen, 2017). Destitution has imposed tremendous pressure on families in most countries in, occasioning to parental, psychological well-being, relationship disputes, economic hardships, and drug misuse (Roelen, 2017). All of these factors have combined to create a barrier to social advancement on the African continent.


African countries must first attempt to change their leadership style; issues of misappropriation, bias in different economic sectors, and poor management of projects must be tackled effectively. Otherwise, if left unresolved, these issues will remain unfixed irrespective of how much aid Africa collects from the West. Nevertheless, for poverty in Africa to be successfully managed, authorities and populations should take the first initiative by establishing corruption-free progressive governments headed by competent, qualified, eligible, broadminded leaders elected through the fair election process.


Carr-Hill, R. (2017). Improving population and poverty estimates with citizen surveys: Evidence from East Africa. World Development, 93, 249-259. Web.

Odusola, A. (2017). Fiscal space, poverty and inequality in Africa. African Development Review, 29(S1), 1-14. Web.

Roelen, K. (2017). Monetary and multidimensional child poverty: A contradiction in terms? Development and Change, 48(3), 502-533. Web.

Thebe, V. (2017). Cultivating an agrarian middle class? Land reform, poverty reduction and social stratification in Southern Africa. Africa Review, 9(2), 186-204. Web.

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