Why Nigeria being endoweded with rich natural resources and land deals with poverty? Learn about the main causes of it and how it can be solved.
Nowadays poverty is one of the significant global problems. People in many countries suffer from it, as it mostly concerns undeveloped or developing countries. There can be different causes of poverty in Nigeria, because this problem doesn't occur spontaneously. Many states in the world attempt to cope with it.
Let’s find out what is understood by poverty. It is the state when a person lacks material possessions or money. The United Nations also describe it as a violation of human dignity and inability of making choices and getting opportunities.
Poverty can be absolute or relative. Thus, there exist two main types of it.
Absolute poverty. It's a condition, characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs. They include food, drinking water, shelter, sanitation facilities, education, health, and information. The World Bank defines it as a condition limited by malnutrition, diseases, illiteracy, squalid surroundings, high infant mortality, and low life expectancy, which is beneath any reasonable definition of human decency. It depends both on the income and on the access to services.
There's also internationally accepted poverty line, which defines people in such condition. According to the World Bank, it's been $1.25 for a day since 2005. However, as the prices and necessities may differ in various countries, there are National poverty lines as well.
Relative poverty. It’s a measure of income inequality or the part of population with earnings less than some fixed proportion of median income. It mostly depends on social context. This very term is used by the United Nations Development Program, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and Canadian poverty researchers. Relative poverty reflects the social inclusion cost and equality of opportunity in certain time and space.
A wide range of factors is identified as parts of poverty. According to the WB's research, they include:
- abuse by people in power,
- physical limitations,
- social relationships problems,
- dis-empowering institutions,
- limited capabilities,
- excluded locations,
- gender relationships,
- precarious livelihoods,
- lack of security,
- weak community organizations.
Nigerian case - Nature and causes of poverty
In Nigeria, poverty is a real problem. It's very widespread and severe. As a result, people have lack of food, clothes, education and the other basic amenities.
Of course, such problem has certain consequences. The effects of poverty in Nigeria include:
Poor health - high level of infant mortality and low level of life expectancy are the biggest signs of it. A lot of people don’t get basic medical amenities and have no access to qualified specialists. Moreover, lots of children aren’t immunized and their health has low priority.
Malnutrition - poor ones don’t have access to nutritious goods or at least cannot afford them. At times people do not have sufficient amounts of any kind of food. Poor nutrition causes 45% of deaths among children under five. Besides, it can provoke terrible diseases such as kwashiorkor, marasmus, etc..
Education – mostly poor kids can’t attend schools. One reason for this is, because their parents cannot afford necessary clothing or school supplies, thus they are doomed to stay illiterate.
Economy - the quantity of people in poverty affects employment rates. People aren’t able to find good jobs without proper education. Unemployment doesn’t let the economic system gain strength.
Society - more poor people have becoming homeless, thus, the criminal rates increase. Many of them might be forced to commit thefts being deprived of the ability to purchase necessary things.
The nature of Nigerian poverty is quite complex. The statistics shows no changes for the better, as the rich ones get richer, while the poor ones get poorer. Thus, it seems there is no poverty alleviation in Nigeria. Even with the good index of economic growth, including:
- high rate of growth during the last decade (about 7,4%),
- well-developed economy,
- large number of natural resources (oil etc.), it still has the highest rate of poverty.
61% of population lives below $1 per day poverty line, implying a decline in equity (the last report on this issue was made by WB in 2012).
There are three main reasons of poverty in Nigeria, among which:
- income inequality,
- ethnic conflicts,
- political instability.
Many political programs failed to overcome these issues.
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The first poverty rate in Nigeria refers to 1980 (made by Federal Office of Statistics). Have a look at the different time indexes:
The present day
The quantity of poor people in rural and urban areas is also different. The number of poor people in the rural areas is twice higher than that of the urban ones (WB).
Poverty distribution also depends on the region. Thus, the North West zone possesses the largest part of its population living in need, and the three northern zones have 65%.
The North West zone shows the lowest expenditures and income figures as well. Poverty scale (WB, 2013):
These are two most vulnerable zones. However, the southern parts have poverty problems as well.
The most widespread causes include:
- Unemployment. It’s a key factor. The living costs row higher while the standards of life go down. There may be various causes of unemployment in Nigeria. The most common one is the lack of education. However, even educated people often cannot find a job. The unemployment rate for the country has reached 4.9% in 2007 and in 2015 it totals 7.5%.
- Corruption. The term denotes an abuse of the power for private purposes. And it happens very often in Nigeria. Thus, the political system has been destabilized. The country income, which is taken mostly from natural resource revenues, is then distributed among the political office holders and their families. All the rest are left in poverty. It’s a common case, when political leaders just ignore the necessities and well-being of those, who have voted for them.
- Absence of the economy diversification. The country’s economy used to be based on the agricultural sector. However, the oil sector rose to 97% by 1984. Since that time, it’s become the major one (it has never fallen below 90%). Any other income sources have been ignored by the authorities, which has made Nigeria very dependable on oil export. Thus, great amount of people has got impoverished, as their products have become irrelevant. Moreover, Nigeria’s oil revenues reduced after the world’s oil price crash in 2014. It also made the external debt increased.
- Inequality. The income’s inequality among people from rural and urban areas is high in Nigeria. Those who live in the rural areas have their money only from agriculture, which isn’t a thriving sector today. Besides, they cannot invest their money as many people from the cities do.
- Laziness. Even if people want to live better, many of them aren't ready to work for it. It is often happens that the family’s budget is supported by one member, who works really hard. And when they die or become very ill, the family can become poor.
- .Education System. Education is necessary for development. Many of the poor ones are uneducated. Many Nigerian girls can’t get educated as they are considered inferior gender.
- Under-utilization of labor resources. Plenty of poor farmers aren’t capable of farming on a scale that will match their labor resources. Besides, there is dire shortage of working capital. It limits the productiveness of farming in general.
- Politicalinstability. Social and political programs are not capable of fighting domestic and international unrest. Investments are being withdrawn, jobs are insecure, the citizens feel economic precipice.
Despite all the difficulties, there are ways to reduce the poverty level in Nigeria or at least to curb it. Themeasures contain:
Rural areas development. To improve the situation, the rural population mustn’t be ignored. They should be supplied with clear water, electricity, medical assistance, and access to the information technologies.
Hunger removal. The application of technologies in local occupations such as agriculture may increase the output, reduce spoilage and goods’ prices in the cities. This will make them more affordable for the urban poor. It would be also better to build good roads from cities to villages. Thus, financial statement of rural population will improve.
Foreign trade. Pharmaceuticals, commodities, cement, food, and many other market sectors should be developed in Nigeria to trade with the other countries (especially within Africa).
Family planning. As national wealth in Nigeria keeps declining, a baby may become not a boon, but a cause of suffering. A poor woman in this country may have up to seven children. Family planning reduces any complications, mothers, and child mortality. Special centers need to be built in order to help mothers in local areas.
Minimum wage increase. The workers can be motivated with the growing amount of salary. The more and better they work, the better they are paid. It will also increase the demand for goods and services, which will have a positive effect on the economy.
Poverty is a great problem in Nigeria, which is caused by many different factors. It's obvious that people in the rural areas suffer much more. Besides, the rates aren’t the same in various regions of the country.
Being a country with good economic growth, Nigeria can try to fight poverty. Everything may become better if political leaders manage to deal with different types of unrest, to support agricultural sector, and to develop another market sectors and not only oil export.
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