Africa Poverty

Is Africa really as poor as we are told?

Today there are still more than 1 billion of people in Africa who live below the poverty line. This means that 47% of the total population in sub-Saharan Africa have less than $1.25 per day for all of their food, clean water shelter and everyday living costs needed to survive.

Whilst for a small minority of people living in sub-Saharan Africa their quality of life is improving for the poor the situation has barely changed over the last ten years. In fact, more than a quarter of countries in sub-Saharan Africa are poorer today than they were in 1960 and 25 of the 28 poorest countries in the world are in the region. Most worryingly the gap between the rich and poor continues to increase every year and so without tackling with the root causes of poverty the cycle of poverty for these communities is likely to continue.

Is the number of people living in poverty decreasing?

Yes, globally the number of people living in extreme poverty has decreased and in Africa the percentage of people living below the poverty line has decreased. However, this is only telling half the story as in Africa the population has been increasing and so in reality, there are now more people than ever before living in extreme poverty. Development in sub-Saharan Africa has been slower than in other regions and as the population is expected to more than double by 2050 resources and development programs will be unlikely to keep up and more people will be living in extreme poverty.

Africa has been getting aid from Governments for a long time so why do they still need donations?

The UK Government gives 0.7% of its Gross National Income (GNI) in foreign aid which in 2015 was approximately $12 billion. The majority of this is given to multilateral organisations, such as the United Nations, and can be for both emergency and long-term projects. However, it is important to know that for many countries a large proportion of their aid has actually given as loans and often the debt repayments take a large amount of the annual extra aid. This alongside the billions moved out of the country in tax havens, multinational companies transfers and corrupt governments has created a debt dependency in the region. All of this means that some countries have a shortfall in aid income over the year.

It is clear that for aid to make a difference and for sub-Saharan Africa to have a future less dependent on aid we must also focus on developing fairer trade agreements with developing nations, not harming their growth with our foreign policy decisions and protecting them from tax havens.

What can I do to help Africa?

Research has shown that the project-based approach of aid is the most successful form of long-term, sustainable development. Through financing local businesses, building water wells and supporting local schools’ new opportunities are given to people to free themselves from a system of poverty. By supporting charities which are working with local groups and organisations promoting these projects you will be making a real difference.

Africa has an abundance of natural resources, including gold, diamonds, oil and uranium, which should make it one of the wealthiest regions in the world. However, over the last 14 years we have seen how international corporations, corrupt governments and the rest of the world have often inhibited the growth of Africa for their own gain. Charities in Africa, including African Development Trust, aim to empower the local communities so they can be in charge of building a future no longer dependent on aid for them and their families.


How do I know my money will go to those in need?

There are many charities across the world doing amazing work in Africa which is improving the lives of people living in extreme poverty. Each charity will have a different amount of admin costs and approach to their projects. It is important that you review each one to know the individual difference they are making and their impact.

At African Development Trust our low admin costs and focus on local partners means that we have an 100% donation policy. Find out more about How we spend our donations.

Why should I help Africa when their own Governments are corrupt?

Corrupt Governments are one reason why sub-Saharan Africa still has extreme poverty, but it is not the only reason. Decades of being the victims of unfair trade agreements with the developed world and multinational corporations has also had an impact.

However, the vast majority of people living in extreme poverty have no opportunity to influence these things. They are the millions of families, children and elderly in Africa who have to struggle every day to survive. It is these people who African Development Trust run our projects for and it is these innocent people who need your support.

Is it not Africa’s problem that they are just having too many children?

The average woman in Africa will now give birth to 5.2 children in her lifetime which is significantly higher than the developed world. We know that this is not sustainable in the future, but without the education and medical supplies needed in sub-Saharan Africa to offer people an alternative it is unlikely to change in the future. This is why our holistic approach is essential to build a future for Africa outside of extreme poverty. See our projects in education and maternal health.

What long term impact is the poverty having on Africa?

Poverty is continuing to have a devastating impact in Africa. Today 20% of people living in Africa are malnourished. This is the highest number of malnourished people in any continent and is leading to associated medical problems and stunted growth in children.

With over 589 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa still living without electricity many still cook by burning whatever they can find, and diseases are rife with the lack of clean, safe drinking water. The impact of the extreme poverty can be seen everywhere in the region and many of the simple things we take for granted in the developed world are a long way from being seen in sub-Saharan Africa, including access to electricity and clean water.

How is African Development Trust making a difference?

The continued plight in Africa and inability to get out of the cycle of poverty means that a holistic approach to development is essential. Our extensive experience in Africa means that we know that Africa has been blessed with natural resources to make it successful, but it still has one of the highest amounts of people living in poverty because of poor governance and a lack of opportunities and genuine support from the international community to address the root causes of poverty. This has been worsened by the increase in natural disasters, including yearly droughts, and the environment being overexploited, such as deforestation.

We have seen in the region that the agricultural production has come to a standstill and that those affected by violence are twice as likely to be affected by hunger and are three times more likely to be out of school. These vulnerable families, 50 million orphans and people living in extreme poverty need to be given the opportunity to build a new future. Through our education projects, livelihood programmes and sponsorship we are making a real difference in sub-Saharan Africa.