A report by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) says the number of people living in extreme poverty in southern Africa will worsen by 2040, where the majority—45 percent—will be concentrated in Malawi and Madagascar.
According to the report titled Extreme poverty set to rise across southern Africa, economic growth in southern Africa is not expected to trickle down to the most vulnerable members of the society and the region is not expected to register economic growth that is high enough for its rapidly growing population.
The report further reveals that low public service access paired with expected population growth and modest economic growth means that much of the population will continue to lack support and means to help them pull themselves out of extreme poverty.
“Much of the population already lacks access to basic infrastructure and health services. Less than a third of the population has access to piped water, less than half has access to improved sanitation facilities and the region has the third-lowest life expectancy in the world” reads the report.
Southern Africa accounts for nine percent of extreme poverty globally although it only accounts for 2.5 percent of the world population.
In Malawi alone, a 2015 study by Oxfam titled A dangerous Divide: The state of inequality in Malawi revealed that an estimated 9.5 million people will live in poverty by 2020 up from 8 million people in 2015.
Commenting on the forecasts, Catholic University head of economics department Gilbert Kachamba said the results are not surprising as Malawi and Madagascar in particular have agriculture as the major component of gross domestic product (GDP).
He said “There is need for a paradigm shift. We need to boost other sectors of the economy other than agriculture. The manufacturing sector needs to grow so that the volume of unprocessed products being exported is reduced significantly and volume of manufactured products increase significantly”.
On his part, Chancellor College economics professor Ben Kaluwa said to get out of poverty, a country’s economic growth must be substantially higher than the population growth rate while at the same time the level of inequality should be narrowing.
Malawi’s gini-coeficient —a measure of the extent of distribution of income—jumped from 0.39 in 2004 to 0.45 in 2011.
Malawi’s poverty rate has been worsening in the past three years, captured at almost 70 percent as of last year, the recent World Bank reports in its recent bi-annual Malawi Economic Monitor publication.
The publication puts into perspective Malawi’s economy by monitoring trends to help guide policy interventions and economic planning.
The poverty rate had dropped to 69.3 percent in 2014 from a peak of 70.1 percent the previous year but since then there has been an upward surge to reach 69.6 percent, showing the country is losing the battle against poverty which the bank says is striking half of the rural population.