Learning From Others: Increasing Agricultural Productivity for Human Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

01 Jan 2012


Human development - the advancement of people's capabilities and functionings - depends on human resources, constraints, and capacity to ma ke and implement considered choices. All these depend on income, nutrition (especially in children), and access to and conditions of work. All these are usually likelier to be inadequate or insecure for the poor. So, for human development, access by the poor to more, better and safer income, nutrition and work has high priority anywhere, but perhaps above all in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA): Severe absolute income poverty (income below $1.25P PP2005/person/day) affected about 51% of people in SSA in 2005, only a small fall since 1981 (54%). Meanwhile, poverty incidence had fallen from 84% to 16% in China, and from 60% to 42% in India. In 1981-2005 real average income of the poor was static at 73c/day in SSA; in China it rose from 67c to 94c, and in India from 84c to 93c. Undernutrition in SSA, while less prevalent than in South Asia, is not improving. Of 42 African countries with a post-2000 and an earlier national survey of the proportion of children underweight, 18 show at least a 2% fall, 14 at least a 2% rise, and 10 no notable change (in Asia, with 25 national repeat surveys, comparable numbers are 14, 1 and 10). Of 29 African repeat national surveys of child stunting, 12 show improvement, 11 deterioration, and 6 no notable change.

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