Survey measures Africa’s poverty

Despite continued reports of economic growth in Africa, much of the continent remains wracked by poverty, with roughly one in five citizens saying they frequently lack food, clean water and medical care, according to the largest survey of African citizens.

The fifth round of the Afrobarometer, which comes out every several years, was released today in Johannesburg. Thirty-four countries were surveyed – up from 20 countries during the last round of surveys in 2008-9 – making it the most comprehensive look at life in Africa since the Afrobarometer was started in 1999.

According to the current findings, 17 percent of Africans say they frequently go without food, 22 percent lack clean water on a regular basis, and 20 percent often go without medical care. About 50 percent do without these necessities at least occasionally. The problem is particularly striking in West Africa and East Africa, and less so in the northern and southern regions of the continent.

The findings come despite the fact that Africa’s gross domestic product grew by an average of 4.8 percent between 2002 and 2011. This would be about 3% per capita after factoring in population growth. Also, the economic gains are not evenly distributed.

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