Over the last ten years or so, interest in multidimensional poverty analysis has really taken off - not only among academics, but also in the broader policy debate. No one seems to dispute that deprivations exist in multiple domains, and are often correlated. Looking at deprivations in health, education and other dimensions of well-being can complement the fundamental measurement of income and consumption-based poverty, illustrated by the World Bank poverty update announced yesterday. But agreement at this conceptual level clashes with often vociferous disagreement about how best to measure these deprivations.
Several people, from The Economist to this blog, have been highlighting Africa's accelerated GDP growth of about 5 percent a year for the decade before the 2008-9 global economic crisis, and the two years since the crisis. But has this growth served to reduce poverty?
The latest globally consistent estimate of poverty rates has an answer: Yes.
Using the measure of people living on $1.25 a day or less, the World Bank's poverty measurement team, led by my colleague Martin Ravallion, estimates that the percentage of poor Africans fell from 58 percent in 1999 to 47.5 percent in 2008. This rate of decline of about one percentage point a year is a welcome change from the previous decade when growth was much slower and the poverty rate increased.
The gathering of world leaders in London last week to consider the fate of Somalia may be heralding a new development moment for the war-torn country. But we are in unchartered waters: we know very little about Somalia’s economy.
First, from a development viewpoint, there is no such thing as one Somalia. Ironically, the unrecognized Somaliland entity [see the Somaliland success story in “Yes Africa Can” ] has enjoyed stability and democratic governance, pursuing classic development interventions (service delivery through the state, infrastructure investment, capacity building …). [In addition, Somaliland appears to have very good statistics.]
By contrast, South Central Somalia, where the capital city and official -albeit transition- government of Somalia are located, is a quintessential failed state plagued by conflict and public mismanagement. Puntland lies somewhere in between, with some stability but an embryonic state under growing influence of piracy networks.
Tanzania has shown massive achievements in education – well known progress in primary enrolment plus less well known, but in some ways even more spectacular, growth in post-primary education.
Yet, Tanzania needs to improve learning outcomes if a virtuous cycle of growth and human capital investment is to be sustained. This is “The Steep Learning Curve” which Tanzania needs to get onto with modest fiscal resources but a rapidly growing number of new students, and therefore with a keen eye for value. This should be possible.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“Africa is quietly undergoing a tech revolution that could transform the continent. CNN's African Voices has highlighted 10 leading tech voices from different African countries. Each one comments on the role technology plays in boosting entrepreneurship and empowering communities in Africa.” READ MORE
Open Society Foundations
How Open Society Grantees Are Advancing Access to Public Information in Latin America
“Since the landmark legal decision Marcel Claude Reyes and Others v. Chile of the Inter-American Human Rights Court in 2006, the right to access public information has increasingly been recognized by Latin America’s governments as a human right. Fourteen of the region’s nineteen countries have access to public information laws, more than any other developing region in the world. Most of these have been passed in the past decade with the support of the Open Society Foundations' Latin America Program and partner civil society organizations.” READ MORE
· Global poverty numbers for 2005-2008 are out. Many of you may not have known this, but the four of us who maintain this blog work in the same research group at the World Bank that is responsible for producing these numbers.