The Scourge of Poverty in the 21st Century: The Case of Africa
About 220 million people or half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa live in poverty, with projections indicating a figure of about 400 million by the year 2010. Poverty in Africa has been characterised by declining per capita income, poor economic growth, low employment and inadequate access to social services. It has been exacerbated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the erosion of social safety nets as countries adjust their economies in the wake of globalisation, political instability, ethnic conflict and genocide. Utilising Africa as a case study, this paper argues that conventional theories of development which have been used to explain poverty such as the modernisation theory have failed. It therefore calls for the promotion of direct attacks on widespread poverty where African governments and the people themselves play a critical role in poverty alleviation programmes. The paper also argues that over-reliance on outsiders, generally known as the dependency syndrome, is escalating poverty in Africa, and proposes that Africans should be more enterprising if poverty is to be reduced in the foreseeable future.
Keywords: Poverty, Africa, Theories of Development, Poverty Alleviation Programmes
Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Department of Social Anthropology and Sociology and Social Work