West Africa is a home to 16 countries which include Cape Verde, Benin, Sierra Leone, Togo, Mali, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Gambia, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. It is homes 381, 981,000 as of 2017. These countries have a blessed variety of abundant natural resources and workforce. UNDP findings in 2009 showed that Africa is the second largest continent in the world (Norton 633). This is based on the increasing population over the years. Based on the 2050 projections, Africa as a whole will have 1.9 billion people (Norton 633; Adjei 4). However, West Africa has continued to wallow in poverty over the years regardless of able resources within their borders. The challenge remains that developed countries like the United States, China, United Kingdom, and Brazil amongst others have continually benefited from West Africa’s populations. The high numbers have remained the biggest challenge for Africa’s leadership to maintained and facilitate the spread of resources due to the substantial aid it received.
Moreover, based on UNDP, most of the catastrophes includes flooding, increased border tensions and bushfires drives the most population to poverty. As such, more than half of the population (50%) are living in poverty below $1 in a day (Norton 638). The extent to which poverty in West Africa is witnessed is not surprising to the developed countries. This is due to its abundant resources; for example, Nigeria has Oil yet most populations are living in poverty. The fact that these countries have renewable and non-renewable resources should attest of the country’s efforts in guiding policies that promote economic performance. Nonetheless, the African Millennium Development Goals of 2012 shows that Africa is making significant progress in the reduction of poverty through its infrastructural development and economic empowerment through agriculture (Norton 640). Therefore, the essay relies on this input to provide an insight into poverty causes in West Africa and recommend solutions for sustainable development, and the growth of West African countries.
Causes of Poverty in West Africa
According to the MDG report of 2012, West Africa constitutes significant resources, and despite such a fact, the level of poverty is high as compared to the globe. A viewpoint of its causes is multifaceted and cannot be pinpointed to one in particular (Norton 638). Colonization in Africa come to an end over three decades, and as such, other African countries have expressed growth and substantial per capita income (Adjei 4). The problems resonate from the inwards structure of these countries as the population increased have created higher rates of impoverished people (97). The levels of poverty vary from one region to another based on population numbers as Ghana’s poverty and Nigeria are not the same. However, the main contributors are ideally the same; this includes the type of leadership and governance, increased internal and external conflicts, political instability, high illiteracy levels, unfavorable trade policies amongst others (Hughes 101).
Ideally, West Africa’s poverty is related to the effects of conflicts within the regions. For example, Nigeria and increased Boko Haram who terrorized residents and engage in kidnapping, molesting of younger girls and women. This contributes to insecurity across the country (Hughes 102). Also, the witnessed conflicts with neighboring countries due to the poorer relationship. In essence, the tendency of conflicts affects the typical working environment. The level of productivity in the country is impaired entirely and investment mechanism goes down as investor’s confidence is compromised in the market (Hughes 112; Adjei 8). The level of business in the region based on capital to invest becomes unattractive to investors due to the spread of news around the world.
Nevertheless, the governments are forced to spend and allocate a lot of funds in managing the conflicts. In doing so, the capital that could have helped build and develop water reservoirs for the population for livestock farming and agricultural produce is diverted (Hughes 134). This is also coupled with the rising unemployment witnessed in these countries as evident in Nigeria. In that, acquiring a high level of education does not guarantee access to job opportunities (Beegle 88). The level of corruption for employment is high.
Further, the living cost is high. The programs developed by the government fails to equate the needs of the population as the cost of living goes higher given the weak currency and the extent of spending in relief services due to conflicts. Based on a report conducted by Beegle, Africa as a whole loses $18 billion annually (Beegle 100; Annan 67). This is due to the internal and external wars and insurgencies. Specifically, the countries economy of about 15% is affected by increased conflicts. This documents that poverty in itself is a cause of poverty as fighting against each other spur violence crimes in the countries (Beegle 100). Also, the level of protest is high in these countries, and its consequences affect the toll of production and economic performance. The fact that poverty remains a challenge to West Africa means that avoiding conflicts remains inevitable. This makes poverty a continuous element in these regions (Beegle 102).
High Corruption, poor leadership, and weak institutions
Leadership remains the core factor that determines a country’s development and productivity both regionally and internationally. However, in West Africa, the country’s governance and leadership is a crisis (Beegle 104). Foremost, this is evident based on most Presidents that have held onto the position for more than 30 years with little investment and input to the country’s population. The level of corruption is high as favors are the defining factor to access jobs for youths and personal needs. Politics in itself is just for the belly and the fulfillment of a family’s needs (Englebert 54; Adjei 5). Most leaders elected are interested in amassing wealth for their gain as the power is high and the state institutions mandated to remedy such cases are weak. This is in terms of financial support of independent and compromised leaders who accept corruption as an alternative to court proceedings against corrupt leaders (Englebert 57; Beegle 108). Besides, the institutions responsible for performing checks and balances on the government are weak by default. The government’s officials practice corruption as the level of transparency is tainted in these regions. The addressed mechanism in place is blunt to follow up, investigate and provide evidence for convictions (Englebert 57). For example, the programmes rolled out for tackling corruption based on foreign funding’s and initiatives of the state through taxpayer’s money are many.
According to Englebert, the implementation and the guiding framework of these institutions is a challenge as political woes, turmoil and increased wars politically make the institutions unable to have a stable environment (Englebert 57). The political will is lacking, and the volume of resources lost through public coffers is high. The rich people have access to opportunities whereas the poor continue to live in poverty. In essence, the inequalities witnessed causes a system that benefits the powerful that is, the politicians and their allies (Englebert 58). Those who are struggling are left alone as the mechanism in place, and the level of transparency that would affect change is tainted publicly by political leaders in the spree of their agenda. For example, a report carried out by Transparency International shows that the President of Nigeria Abacha embezzled up to Us $ 5 billion and nothing has been done against him for the sake of future generation (Englebert 60).
Moreover, corruption is developed based on leaders elected to positions who are ignorant and sycophants working for a higher bidder rather than the needs of the local populations (Adjei 6). In essence, the leaders in power have no extensive experience to make sound decisions or least amend and implement laws that benefit the people and zeal corruption routes in the system. This is evidence in leadership naivety that fails to consider the social and economic policies that are conscious of population needs (Annan 70). Their plans are a scapegoat of development as it fosters untold hardship to the local folks. For example, the number of state projects advocated in these areas is many. But, they are the conduits of corruption as evident of stalling multiple projects across West Africa and the leader’s constant assurance of completion.
In recent times, the politics for Africa have grown as African Union (AU) established a voluntary self-monitoring Africa Review Mechanism (APRM) that helps in ensuring that political leaders have specific requirements of education (Annan 80). This, in turn, helps in creating a focused leadership to avert crisis as most leaders are fighting for good legacy through their end terms. This, in turn, represents a fraction of hope in combating poverty in West Africa as the knowledgeable principles enacted guides productivity and creation of awareness across the country (Adjei 8).
Inadequate trade policies
As demonstrated by Annan, West Africa represents home to vast natural resources. However, the developed countries have over time benefit from these countries. In that, the international economic systems in place favor foreign countries instead of the locality. After independence, African countries had to formulate their policies to run different operations (Annan 110; Adjei 9). Those times the electoral process approved the famous individual without a necessity to the level of education. The countries that were comparatively performing due to high economic growth had to make international policies for imports and exports of goods and services (Annan 110). The vast raw materials become a target for global communities that either is in charge of production and exportation of raw materials with little investment to the locality. In that, the West African countries entered into the international trade systems just as producers and exporters and no ability to bargain or make policies that favor its people. Therefore, trade deals do not attract investment nor stable prices in the trade market (Adjei 9; Annan 110). This allows most countries to operate at debt to foreigners who use such a mechanism to subdue African countries given the promise of the loan while the levels of income are less despite massive exports.
Arguably, the problem resonates from the challenges the leaders have in ensuring that deals secured are after the needs of the local people. The lack of diversification and industrialization challenges are the causes of poverty. For example, Ghana has tons of cocoa as raw materials and 8% to 15% is produced domestically. However, the country’s industrialization lacks the mechanism to produce and process tons for exports. Based on economic data, cocoa contributes to 28% of foreign earnings. Even so, the report validated by the World Bank and IMF, shows that the policies developed by African countries are not after development and elimination of poverty (Adjei 9). This is especially true for the strict systems in place that accrues a lot of reservations that makes the country’s living hard as worsens the situations. Also, it promotes inequality of the highest order as the trade policies instruct the African governments to tame public spending. This, in turn, leads to loss of jobs for many people as an attempt to reduce on wage bill in an environment that many people are dependent on jobs from the government (Adjei 10). This makes people more miserable.
Concurrently, the poverties organizations are structured a way it conserves own benefits rather than giving preference to market conditions to change poor economies (Adjei 5). The export of agricultural produce is not implemented in such a way to harnessed poverty changes in the countries. Instead, capital is transferred to other countries thus diffusing of personal benefits to warrant negative transformation (Adjei 8; Igboanusi 75). The levels of ideas from the people is not encouraged as talents are not harvested locally. The leadership dependence on international aid to fund the countries is high. Therefore, monies that could have been used to fast track economy in terms of policy formulation to address poverty are used to pay for the government’s increased wages and corruptions scandals after another (Adjei 9). Africa is a country rich with resources, but the jigsaw puzzle is elevating the region’s people as inferior. This curtails on policies and efforts developed to faster the continent’s economic initiatives.
Notably, changes for West Africa should focus on addressing the increased negligence of economic policies that are geared towards people’s needs rather than politicians. The corruption levels, personal interest, power, religion, and ethnicity that is common across these regions must be removed (Igboanusi 76). In doing so, the pipeline of development agenda is effectively scrutinized for effective strategies that drive Africa’s development for a rising continent.
Interestingly, the level of health access in any given country determines the poverty standards. For West Africa, quality health care provisions and infrastructure is a challenge across the population. Therefore, its economy remains stagnant as populations are fighting various diseases that affect a household’s needs making them even more miserable (Norton 635). Poor living conditions are prevalent, and it traps the country’s efforts in the delivery of health. The government’s facilities lacked resources to treat patients. And if so, health access is still costly in these regions. Based on WHO figures is Africa, 1.2 billion people are living in poverty around the globe are associated with high communicable diseases that rapidly change the fate of the communities as the access to basic amenities is a challenge (Norton 635). The scarce resources and uncoordinated government support for diseases like Malaria which can be managed easily is evident. In that, the limited resources and lack of support in the country contributes to poverty. In Africa HIV/AIDS causes poverty as families are left with nothing and in debt which worsens their conditions (Norton 6634). The ability to sustain themselves is eliminated as the government efforts fail to have reliable data to provide immediate support across the continents.
Efforts by organizations to address poverty
Poverty can be eradicated, but it takes the presence of organization with transformative leadership. The culture of the institutions should invest in strategic plans, human resources, and ethics to guide results that are conscious of population needs. In this case, an organization that can have an influence in poverty eradication in West African countries are the anti-corruption commissions, WHO, UNEP, WEF, UN, WFP, water bodies, and ministries, etc.
Therefore, organizations established to fight corruption have a more significant purpose of affecting the desired outcome in the continent. This is based on policies developed and enough funding of this institution to charge corrupt leaders (Alvarez 23). In doing so, it limits the extent of corruption in the country for streamlined services. For example, in Ghana, the leadership wrangles have become part of the country’s growth for a long time. The creation of independent corruption institutions enables changes that befits the needs of the population. In that, reduction of corruption and high profile arrest with the help of an independent prosecution team creates a form of change in the country (Alvarez 23). A viewpoint of poverty in West Africa shows that more than 50% of poverty is caused by poor leadership and governance that attracts corruption for power and self-gain (Alvarez 24). However, a robust organization that judges through a fair and credible process with the help of the court system run with transparency and coordinated support for the law society enables useful results.
Similarly, the establishment of water bodies plays a pivotal role in shaping the fate of poverty. The fact that West Africa represents the land of natural resources does not mean that all population gets access to quality water for life (Alvarez 24). The level of drought and famine in these countries can be controlled through government-funded initiatives and international bodies. In doing so, access to water for people and livestock helps in mitigating poverty levels. Water bodies should integrate plans that assist in addressing drought and famine in these areas (Alvarez 26). The critical idea resonates from strategic funding initiatives that drills boreholes in affected regions or least migrate pastoralist and provide capital to start up in areas with access to raw materials and water. In that, water contributes to poverty as no access means death for livestock which is equated to wealth for the pastoralist community (Alvarez 26). The UN bodies must ensure that water as the primary source of life reaches to all the part of the West African countries. Such gesture is usually affected by poor governance and policies as well as embezzlement of funds allocated for dams building and infrastructural development in drought-affected areas (Alvarez 27). However, with corruption institutions working towards its mandate and UN interventional programs after addressing poverty, then chances are, poverty level will be curtailed shortly.
Unfortunately, that is not the case as of now. The fact that there exist many water bodies in these countries does not transfer to the eradication of poverty (Obeng-Odoom 201). The government institutions in charge of water, its ministries, and UN programs have a responsibility to follow up on ensuring that programs developed are not short term. But instead, long terms programs that are geared towards uplifting lives and encouraging a diversified economic activity as the needs of pastoralist are factored in for a new era (Obeng-Odoom 201). Particularly, drilling of boreholes or embracing technological advancement under the support of donors to create an environment that provides necessities to all population in West Africa.
Furthermore, WFP and WHO in conjunction with the government can offer a lot in eradicating poverty in these regions. However, the fact that these organizations have been in existence for a long time yet results have not yet changed is something that needs in-depth analysis (Obeng-Odoom 202). For example, WFP has a responsibility to coordinate help in mitigating food shortages across the country by working with these governments. The fact that they are established and they rarely employ people from locality is something disturbing. Notably, these institutions should not be working to benefit their concern in West African countries. Instead, their focus amid this population should be on programs, funding initiatives, scholarship and better agricultural farming methods that can help in addressing poverty challenges (Obeng-Odoom 210). This means the working criteria should change. Not just a representation of headquarters’ rules and regulation while enjoying better services and security in the localities, but being part of the people, it should work with the people. Foremost, the employment of people from the region is a tool to create awareness and guide policies that are conscious of the needs of the poverty areas. This is because poverty is something that is highly diversified in the continent.
Nevertheless, if policies developed and regulations in place are after addressing rampant poverty, then it becomes possible to educate the population on different ways for future productivity (Obeng-Odoom 234). The programs rolled out should attempt to educate women and youths in the community. Also, it should involve firms in remedying a high level of ignorance that is attributed to poverty. More so, WHO facilities should help in eradicating health concerns (Obeng-Odoom 234). This is by funding and providing access to primary healthcare for the most population. In essence, antibodies for HIV/AIDS as well as other infectious diseases. In that, if diseases are curbed in these regions, then it also becomes possible to reduce the level of poverty. In that, health and poverty are related to each other (Obeng-Odoom 235). WHO and government support mechanism should not just roll out unnecessary programs, but mobile clinics should be established across the country. The price factor of medicine and health care should also be evaluated to ensure that the sick can be treated at a low price. This means the government must provide free health care coverage to its people (Obeng-Odoom 235). It is a problem as it requires a lot of funding. However, a rollout of a strategy that is equally planned and integrates the funding from all donors becomes a possibility. In that, healthy people means strong workforce which translates to effective performance and economic development in the country. Also, it means low debt ratio that is slowly taking away the lives of many people and causing a higher preference for poverty (Obeng-Odoom 238). Those unable to get immediate care end up dying in hospitals with a lot of debt incurred. The level of poverty worsens as WHO’s efforts and government programs lack a preplanned approach to relate and give attention to all people for equal distribution and access to essential services.
An organization like UNEP, as well as other governmental organization responsible for environmental concerns, have a unique role in combating poverty. In that, West African countries are impacted with natural calamities due to poor ecological policies that fail to give preference to tree planting and avoidance of log cutting in high numbers (Gamu 162). These countries are endowed with vast natural resources in terms of forestry that welcome favorable weather patterns across the year. This ensures that water is available to all populations as drought, famine, and floods re remedied (Gamu 162). Thus, if UNEP and government environmental bodies use the resources allocated well, chances are the causes of poverty are eradicated in time. In that, poverty is an all rounded problem facing the population. If policies in place give preference to the conservation of natural resources and sustainability practices, chances are, the future society can reap a good harvest (Gamu 163). This organization should step up, fight and advocate for strategies that are conscious to future needs to avoid catastrophes that affect the population in terms of millions of losses in properties due to floods amongst others. It can be a long shot, but such changes always addressed poverty in one way or another. For far too long the guiding framework and donor funding programs have been used for pretense without much resources allocated to people in poverty-stricken areas (Gamu 163). However, if the focus is renewed and resources for these people are facilitated to the grassroots, then it becomes possible to witness some positive changes.
Besides, educational reforms across the continent can address poverty issues in many ways if the government as an institution should focus on providing education across the country. It becomes possible to solve the problems of poverty (Gamu 165). High levels of low family incomes are attributed to ignorance as the population has no formal access education. The level of employment is low, and the high number of illiteracy coupled with corruption fosters poverty across the West African countries.
Consequently, a situation where the government decides to invest in the population, that is the workforce, then it becomes possible to address poverty. The high income and CSR responsibilities developed should integrate communities’ concerns (Bazilian et al. 217). In doing so, access to education helps in expanding how people think and relate with the way of life. The forms of business initiatives as a way to earn a living rather than dependency on traditional methods (Bazilian et al. 217). The government, in this case, is obliged to invest in youth’s talents to ensure that capital to start a business or sell their idea is created. A platform that can connect the population with the market to sell their plans and earn money to better improve on their lives. Next, it is essential to address issues on a controlled population (Bazilian et al. 219). The organizations in charge of government initiatives have a responsibility to educate the families on the effectiveness of family planning. In Africa, children in a family can go up to ten in number for poverty-stricken families. This highly contributes to poverty. This issue must be addressed by providing alternative options to create family programs that respect the traditional culture and geared towards transforming marriages for realizable results (Bazilian et al. 219).
Role of people in eliminating poverty in West Africa
Ideally, poverty can be reduced in West Africa if people take the responsibility of addressing such concerns. In this case, more community organization have been developed. All this with the necessary resources that can help in creating a pool or funds to invest in some form of business. In doing so, it makes it tenable to generate employment for people. In that, job security in Africa countries is a challenge (Makinda et al. 256). However, in self-employment, chances are high as no one can fire anybody. This allows a group of people to grow, contributes to economic development while mentoring the communities. This plays a pivotal role when it comes to handling poverty among women. In that, most of them lack formal education but, any form of business exists within the surrounding. Some technical advice and providence of capital either through community forums can help in advocating for self-employment policies. People themselves can also protest against the rampant corruption in the countries as well as the choosing of right political leaders (Makinda et al. 256). In this case, people represent voters, and if most of them can shy away from tribal politics, then they can choose leaders who have a purpose. That is, to serve the population for a sustainable future. This is only possible if the people used many forums to presents their needs and mobilized numbers by use of the social media community and other interactive sessions.
Particularly, the learned individuals who compose of many populations in the West African regions. In that, the level of graduates are high, yet government jobs too low. As a way to address poverty, it is worth instilling alternative options to the graduates. The reliance on government jobs is not promising, but if the students can form groups that seek to pull their ideas together, access funds from the government and give back to the community (Devas 84). Then, it is possible that poverty can be addressed. The removal of poverty takes simple steps, the involvement of all person in talking and finding solutions that work individually. For example, in West African countries, leadership is the root of increased poverty due to self-interest. However, if youths or the population can rise together and say no to those leaders, then it is possible that new leaders are elected to such posts (Devas 88). In doing so, the vast resources of the government through the right leaders are diversified across the country to remedy poverty and build a healthy economy.
People are the fountain of hope in any given environment. The fact that poverty persists in African countries means that people’s uprising is necessitude. The population through activists and social media must be educated. The issue of poverty must be talked about with all persons and families to create a platform of equality that seeks to advocate for human rights and a transparent nation (Devas 85). In essence, the power the people has must be tapped into by the people themselves to ensure that the government’s objectives and manifestos are implemented. The level of governance and policies put in place must be created through the people as a representative. Therefore, the forum should change as people are a dominant tool in any given economy. For west African countries, it is also right for states to declare poverty emergency issues as a way to derive a mechanism that is long term and people involving for the desired outcome from one community to another.
Conclusively, poverty remains a global issue across the African continent. Most of these countries are developed with good economic activity in terms of GDP. The resolution relies on people’s efforts and leadership influence in advocating for change in politics that for far too long has been the root of poverty. It is time to relook at the past as a country, a people and the leadership from the member’s representatives to the presidents and civil servants. In doing so, it becomes possible to say no to aid as it increases debt and develops a program that is internal and strict about addressing the future of these countries. Poverty makes Africa a land of no future as the generation, and the next generation will continue to live in poverty. However, imagine using social media platform and all organization streamlined for one coordinated purpose. To talk about poverty and find solutions that are geared towards capturing individual talents and vast resources for a better future. This can only happen if all people come together as one regardless of age, sex, place of origin, ethnicity, etc. and be part of the walk and deeds.
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