Zimbabwe ranks number 15 on countries with highest rates of poverty published on July 25, 2023 by Sana Ijaz on Yahoo! Finance.
The report reveals that, 33 out of 40 countries with the highest rates of poverty are from Africa, owing to the continent’s unstable economic state.
According to ISS Africa, Central Africa has the highest extreme poverty rate, averaging 54.8%.
Closely following are Southern Africa and Western Africa, with poverty rates of 45.1% and 36.8%, respectively.
As per the Asian Development Bank, the number of extremely poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa is 388 million, followed by 256 million in South Asia.
“We found poverty rate by country in 2023 from the World Bank’s database and ranked nations in ascending order of high poverty rates.
To be more precise about these poverty rates, we selected the poverty headcount ratio at $2.15 a day from the World Bank’s indicators.
This indicator shows a country’s population percentage currently surviving on less than $2.15 a day and is defined as the threshold of extreme poverty by the World Bank and the UN”, Ijaz reported.
The research took cognisance of the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Report for April 2023 to understand how the said countries’ GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has changed in recent years.
Ijaz reveals that they selected the time frame of 2018-2023 in the IMF Database and downloaded the GDP to report back their findings of the worst poverty rates in the world.
Based on the findings, Zimbabwe’s current GDP is $29.931 billion, and its population is 15 million.
When hyperinflation, poor economic infrastructure, and lack of resources come together, poverty becomes huge in a nation.
39.8% of people in Zimbabwe live below the poverty line, and the majority are food insecure as they survive below $2.15 a day.
War torn Sudan and Yemen ranks better than Zimbabwe with them on number 39 and 35 repectively.
Sudan’s GDP is $46 billion (almost $7 billion higher than two years ago), its 15.3% population still survives on less than $2.15 a day.
Yemen’s economy is shattered by a protracted conflict that began in 2015; over 80% of its population depends on aid to survive. Currently, 19.8% of people in the country survive on less than $2.15 a day, which intensifies malnutrition.
Facts About Poverty in Zimbabwe
Poverty affects 76.3% of Zimbabwean children living in rural areas as of 2020.
About 74% of the population lives on less than $5.50 a day and the average wage per month is $253.
More than half of Zimbabwe’s 13.5 population live below the food poverty line and about 3.5 million children are chronically hungry.
Approximately 1.3 million Zimbabweans were living with HIV as of 2016.
However, the number of HIV cases has been declining since 1997 because of improvements in prevention, treatment and support services.
Approximately 60% of rural Zimbabwean women face period poverty, which means they lack access to menstrual supplies or education.
Moreso, girls who experience period poverty miss an estimated 20% of their school life.
In 2019, two million Zimbabweans had no access to safe drinking water due to the impacts of drought.
Why Poverty is Rampant in Zimbabwe
Since 1980, Zimbabwe’s economy has primarily depended on mining and agricultural industries.
Zimbabwe’s mining industry has immense potential as the country is home to the Great Dyke, the second-largest platinum deposit globally. Additionally, Zimbabwe has more than 4,000 gold deposits.
However, illegal gold mining hurts the industry, and the country’s lax mining licensing laws also allow foreign owned companies to mine minerals at cheap costs, leading to a lack of incentive to accelerate mineral production.
Statistics show that approximately 70% of youth in Zimbabwe are currently unemployed and are living in extreme poverty.
As a result of poverty, the youth have been exposed to exploitation in political structures for political gain.
The youth vote can be easily swayed and bought for a certain fee and underprivileged youth are continuously on the receiving end.
Measures to Reduce poverty in Zimbabwe
Poverty can be reduced through stimulating the country’s agricultural industry.
Nearly 66% of Zimbabweans rely on their small farms for survival.
A revitalisation of the agricultural sector will spur economic growth and eradicate poverty.
The World Bank reports that Zimbabwe currently faces a poverty headcount ratio of 39.8% at the national poverty lines, with numerous rural households relying on subsistence farming as their main source of income.
Zimbabwe has the potential to emerge as a significant food producer due to its fertile land and favorable climate conditions.
The most prominent challenge for agriculture in Zimbabwe is the limited access to credit and technical assistance.
Another challenge is that many small-scale farmers lack the necessary resources and knowledge to invest in their farms and improve productivity.
The Journal of Economic and International Finance reveals that Zimbabwean banks have consistently maintained relatively small agricultural loan portfolios, representing merely 10% to 25% of the total loan books since the country’s current multi-currency system kicked off in 2009.
This limited access to credit curtails the farmers’ ability to invest in agricultural production and enhance yields.
Climate change presents barriers for Zimbabwean farmers.
Droughts and floods are increasingly afflicting the country, leaving farmers ill-equipped to adapt to these shifting conditions due to limited resources and knowledge.
Agriculture currently accounts for a substantial portion of the Zimbabwean GDP (17%) and employs a significant percentage of the population (60-70%).
Through investing in agriculture, Zimbabwe has the potential to generate employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth in both rural and urban areas.
There is a glaring need to revamp the mining policy. All minerals should be processed locally.
Measures should be done to curb smuggling of minerals oitside the country.
Small scale miners should be capacitated in skills and technology.
Having a vibrant mining and agriculture sector, the future of the country will be bright.