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UN study says Gambia among 20 countries that reduced poverty fastest before Covid

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A UN study has said The Gambia was one of 12 African nations among the 20 countries in the world which reduced poverty levels the fastest prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. The other countries are: Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The Global Multidimentional Poverty Index (MPI) is published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) in the United Kingdom. It is based on household surveys in 111 countries across the world.

However, according to the 2022 MPI, released on October 17, nearly 579 million Africans live in what the study calls “acute multidimensional poverty”.

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This means sub-Saharan countries have overtaken South Asia as the region with the deepest poverty.

In South Asia 385 million people now live in poverty. India remains the country with the most poor people (229mn) while Nigeria has the next highest number (97mn), almost half the population.

The MPI uses a wide range of criteria to assess poverty levels, unlike older methods of judging poverty by income. Based on access to education, health, housing, drinking water, sanitation and electricity, the number of the world’s poor is double the number of people who live below the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day, researchers said.

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According to the study, 50 million people live in acute poverty in the world’s three poorest countries: Niger, South Sudan and Burkina Faso.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the poor are more likely to be deprived of electricity and drinking water. “The region’s electrification rate is 48.4%,” the study says, “and in at least eight countries, less than 20% of the population have access to electricity.”

The “poorest of the poor”, defined as those deprived under all the criteria used to assess their condition, include 3.8 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, including 910,000 in Nigeria, 685,000 in Niger and 615,000 in Ethiopia.

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