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Poverty Alleviation or Income AlieNATION – 71%

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Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) issued a report indicating that as of 2010, the poverty level of the country was 69%. If that was not alarming enough, the Agency claimed that for 2011 by extrapolation, the poverty level was 71% in Nigeria. Assuming that our population estimates are correct and we have reached 160 million people in Nigeria (7 billion globally), then it means that 113.6 million Nigerians are extremely poor.

Poverty is a global phenomenon. The following depressing statistics are from an NGO named One Day's Wage (ODW): “3 billion people live on less than US$2/day. 1.4 billion people live on less than US$1.25/day - the definition of those who live under the condition of "extreme global poverty." Approximately 9.2 million children under the age of 5 die each year, mostly from preventable diseases. That's approximately 25,000 children each day. 2.5 billion people around the world do not have access to adequate sanitation and about 885 million people do not have access to clean water. Every day, 4100 children die each day from severe diarrhea - as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene. Approximately 600 million children live in extreme poverty. Nearly 11,500 people die every day from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Nearly two-thirds of these people are living in sub-Saharan Africa. 69 million children are out of school around the world, a figure equivalent to the entire primary school-aged population in Europe and North America. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria—all treatable diseases—claim the lives of over 8,000 people every day in Africa due to lack of access to health care. According to the U.N., the majority of people in poverty are women, who globally earn roughly half as much as men. Food prices have risen 83 percent since 2005, disproportionately affecting those in poverty who spend a higher percentage of their income on food. In 2005, a conservative estimate stated that 72 million children around the world of elementary school age were not enrolled in school. The richest 20 percent of the world's population receives 75 percent of the world's income, while the poorest 40 percent receive only 5 percent of the world's income.” These statistics were taken from World bank =and the ONE campaign. See

In Nigeria, the problem is more pervasive. As indicated by the table below, it is a serious problem that needs to be tackled. Delta State government is attempting to solve this problem. Initially, part of the 3-point agenda was Human capital Development. During the first tenure, this administration pursued this agenda through the Micro-credit scheme. Part of the thrust of the Uduaghan administration 2nd tenure is job creation. This vision is encapsulated in the creation of a new Ministry to handle poverty alleviation in 2010.

Nonetheless, it is important to take stock of the following to be able to have a meaningful program to alleviate poverty. Otherwise, we will just be engaging in further income alienation, that makes us an alien nation to those less privileged: We should:
1. Evaluate where we are today;
2. Define of poverty;
3. Create a state wide database (PAID – Poverty Alleviation Information Database) covering all 25 LGAs of Deltans in need of poverty alleviation services;
4. Implementation of practical schemes and solutions to solve the problem of poverty;
5. The need for collaboration between various organizations; and
6. Creation of criterion/criteria for judging the success of poverty alleviation & programs.

Evaluation Of Where We Are Today
To eradicate poverty efficiently, there is a need to review the nation's approach to the implementation of pro-poor policies and programmes which, historically, has been largely a top-down approach – with government developing programmes for the people rather than programmes designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated by the people themselves.

Nigeria and Delta State – Summary of 1991 and 2006 Census Figures

Population Attributes Nigeria Delta State
1991 2006 Growth Rate (%) 1991 2006 Growth Rate (%)
Male 44,529,608 71,345,488 2.90% 1,271,932 2,069,309 3.30%
Female 44,462,612 69,086,302 2.90% 1,318,559 2,043,136 2.90%
Total 88,992,220 140,431,790 3.10% 2,590,491 4,112,445 3.10%

Source: Basic data extracted from: CBN, Statistical Bulletin, Volume 14, 2003, Table C.1.4;
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Website:; NBS, Annual Abstract of
Statistics, Chapter 2, Table 20; and NBS, Nigeria Facts & Figures 2007, Table 4.

To further understand where we are today, we must have a working knowledge of our population and our growth rate. We have a high population growth rate of 3.2%, the teeming population tends to exert a massive demand-pull on existing resources; a high population growth rate of 3.2% exerts a massive demand pull on existing resources and constrains the growth of the nation's GDP per capita. We need to curb the population growth rate with programmes focussed on lowering birth rates and need to be facilitated in collaboration with the public and private sectors as well as NGOs and development agencies, with efforts focussed on educating and sensitizing couples to embrace family planning alternatives, increasing the average marriage age of women and eradicating cultural norms, which tend to encourage many children per woman. We can also influence desired family-size through financial incentives such as systems of tax allowances and child benefits, as well as health and educational subsidies, such as are done in the US.

Most programs geared towards poverty alleviation involve skills acquisition. Most of these have not worked because it has been discovered that after these trainees attend the training programs, many sell the equipment given to them and are therefore back on the poverty road again.

Definition of Poverty
What does poverty mean or what does it mean to be poor. Developed countries usually come up with poverty guidelines that spell out what level of income is needed to be considered “not poor” based on the number of persons in the household. Generally, when we are thinking of poverty, we think of unemployed individuals. However, we should also include under-employed persons. For example, Delta State has an unemployment rate of 22.9%, but in reality, the poverty rate is higher.

Year Male Female Age group 25 – 44 Age group 45 – 59 All Nigeria Delta No Schooling Secondary education
2003 55.5 44.5 35.5 3.9 14.8 17.1 11.0 59.7
2007 56.5 43.5 49.5 15.9 14.8 18.1 52.3 25.2

National Unemployment rate
Source: The National Bureau of Statistics Annual Abstract of Statistics 2008, Table 243 - 250, p. 264 - 268.

The incidence of poverty in Nigeria has deepened since the 1980s, tasking the ability of the extended family to serve as a safety net. Hunger and malnutrition remains the worst manifestations of poverty. Hence poverty reduction is one of the most urgent tasks facing the government. In line with the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on hunger and poverty, we should conservatively aim to reduce the number of people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition.

    Total Households   Average # of people per household Poverty Headcount Using

Self-Rated Lines 2004
Delta 1,029,258 5.70 84.25 15.75
National 32,711,251 4.9 78.30 21.70

Figure 5: Number of persons per household - Nigeria vs. Delta State.
Source: The National Bureau of Statistics Annual Abstract of Statistics 2008, Table 69 & 70: Average Persons Per Household, 2001 – 2005, p. 62 & 63.

Creation of a State Wide Database (PAID – Poverty Alleviation Information Database) Covering all 25 LGAS of Deltans In Need Of Poverty Alleviation Services.
The table below provides valuable information on the State's population by LGA. To create a Poverty Alleviation Information Database, we suggest recruitment of 10 graduates in each of the 25 LGA that are computer literate to sensitize the community and gather necessary information. This means a total of 250 persons. Under INEC regulation/Nigerian Electoral laws, most LGAs have a minimum of 10 wards. So, we will use the same formula for assignment of the PAID personnel to gather valuable demographic information such as: marital status, income registration, prior recipients of Micro-credit, number of families, needed services in the community for poverty alleviation, etc. The population breakdown by LGA is depicted below:

1 Aniocha North 52,448 51,614 104,062
2 Aniocha South 69,224 72,821 142,045
3 Bomadi 43,435 42,581 86,016
4 Burutu 106,169 101,808 207,977
5 Ethiope East 101,596 99,346 200,942
6 Ethiope West 102,750 99,962 202,712
7 Ika North East 91,431 91,388 182,819
8 Ika South 82,214 84,846 167,060
9 Isoko North 71,948 71,611 143,559
10 Isoko South 119,167 115,980 235,147
11 Ndokwa East 52,306 50,918 103,224
12 Ndokwa West 73,842 76,182 150,024
13 Okpe 65,270 63,128 128,398
14 Oshimili North 58,101 60,439 118,540
15 Oshimili South 76,078 73,954 150,032
16 Patani 34,307 33,084 67,391
17 Sapele 86,167 88,106 174,273
18 Udu 71,813 70,667 142,480
19 Ughelli North 160,550 160,137 320,687
20 Ughelli South 107,730 104,908 212,638
21 Ukwuani 58,890 60,144 119,034
22 Uvwie 93,999 94,729 188,728
23 Warri North 70,446 65,703 136,149
24 Warri South 158,402 153,568 311,970
25 Warri South West 61,026 55,512 116,538
  2,069,309 2,043,136 4,112,445

Figure 6 - Delta State 2006 Census Figures by Local Government Areas. Source: 2006 Census Final Results published in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette; No.2, Vol.96 (February, 2009).

PAID will be a functional and effective System for Delta State, which will also be used for the following:
1 Maintaining list of service recipients;
2 Tracking and analyzing the economy in terms of poverty implications,
3 Determining future workforce training needs,
4 Identifying the availability of resources,
5 Ascertaining the prevailing living wage, and
6 Exploring potential options.

Implementation of Practical Schemes and Solutions to Solve the Problem of Poverty
It is recommended that we have a decentralized approach to the development and implementation of pro-poor programmes. This will ensure that donor agencies are able to adapt strategies to their respective circumstances, constituencies and development challenges. By this, the citizens will have full ownership of pro-poor strategies, with greater prospects that the strategies will be translated into budgets, programmes and concrete results, and will benefit the intended groups.
As mentioned above, some programs have been developed in the past that have clearly not worked well. We need practical solutions. We should be studying UN and US programs to come up with comprehensive programs that will yield long-lasting results. A veritable option is the American welfare to work program.

Poverty reduction strategy should include the rehabilitation and expansion of physical and social infrastructure to ensure growth of output, employment and development of human resources.

We cannot understate the importance of reestablishing the confidence and trust of the people by developing policies that responds to the needs of the citizens. We should keep this in mind when designing a true Poverty Alleviation Policy/Programme.

The Need for Collaboration between Various Service Providers
To effectively alleviate poverty, the Service providers need to work in collaboration with other MDAs & NGOs. For example, the Ministry of Youth Affairs should be involved with youth employment programs while the Ministry of Women Affairs should be involved with programs geared towards Women's empowerment such as reducing maternal mortality and birth rates, and nourishment issues for babies. Women play a major role in controlling population growth. Research has shown that women that are more educated tend to marry later and are also more enlightened on contraceptive methods, and therefore give birth to fewer numbers of children. Therefore, to achieve the goal of lowering population, appropriate policies targeted at changing the economic role and status of women including quality education, skills acquisition and access to finance for entrepreneurship will be put in place.

What about the Ministry of Health? Review of the Figure below shows that they should be consulted for a viable poverty reduction policy.

The poor healthcare situation in the country is mainly attributable to various underlying factors, such as inadequate and poorly maintained facilities, very high patient to doctor ratio and inefficient service delivery. Nigeria records low Human Development Indicators (158 out of 177) for health (especially for women and children) even within sub-Saharan Africa, and her targets on the Millennium Development Goals for child mortality, maternal mortality and nutrition may be missed by wide margins, if current trends continue unabated. The MDG goals for health also provide important targets for the improvement of the mental and physical wellbeing of Nigerians.

Human Development Index - Nutritional Status

HDI Rank> Country> Population undernourished (% of total population)> Children under weight for age (% of children under 5)> Children under height for age (%)> Infants with low birth weight (%)>
1990/92> 2002/04> 1996-2005> 1996-2005> 1998-2005>
1> Iceland> <2.5> <2.5>     4>
12> United States> <2.5> <2.5> 2> 3> 8>
16> United Kingdom> <2.5> <2.5>     8>
81> China> 16> 12> 9> 19> 4>
158> Nigeria> 13> 9> 29> 43> 14>
159> Tanzania> 37> 44> 22> 44> 10>

Source: Human Development Index Report 2007/2008

Also, Ministry of Agriculture may be involved because in Nigeria agricultural and rural development is a key route to accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction. Lack of food is the most critical dimension of poverty, which is critical to meeting the MDG goals.

\We will also need the Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Environment if we are trying to tackle the statistics below about access to water and sanitation issues.

Water & Sanitation status as at 2004

HDI Rank Country Population using improved sanitation (%) Population using improved water source (%)
1990 2004 1990 2004
1 Iceland 100 100 100 100
12 United States 100 100 100 100
16 United Kingdom     100 100
81 China 23 44 70 77
107 Indonesia 46 55 72 77
158 Nigeria 39 44 49 48
159 Tanzania 47 47 46 62

Source: Human Development Index Report 2007/2008

As you can appreciate, all hands should be on board in the fight against poverty.

Creation of Criterion/Criteria for Judging the Success of the Ministry & Programs
There has been many get out of poverty schemes in the past. So, there must be a clearly defined way to measure the success of poverty alleviation programs. I suggest the following criteria:
Key Measures of Success
• 40% reduction in the proportion of people who live on less than $1 a day by 2015
• 40% reduction in the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015
• 40% of Nigerian households owning or living in decent homes by 2015
• 40% reduction in the number of people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition by 2015
• 40% reduction in the maternal mortality rate which ranges from 300 per 100,000 live births by 2015.
• Under-5 mortality rate of 75 per 1000 live births and 50 per 1000 live births by 2015 and 2020 respectively from 189 per 1000 live births (2007, UNICEF) in 2007

• Under-5 malnutrition rate of less than 20% by the year 2015 from 53% in 2007
• Life expectancy of 70 years by 2020 from 47 years (2007 UNICEF)
• Reduction in number of people per household
• Increase access to micro-Credit. Economic development cannot be fully realised without programmes that seek to reduce poverty, especially those programmes that empower the people by increasing their access to factors of production, in particular credit
• Increase in level of education
• Increase in number of entrepreneurs

If the above recommendations are implemented, we will leave a lasting legacy that will immensely impact the lives of Deltans and Nigerians as a whole.

So what are we waiting for?

Prof Alex O Atawa Akpodiete is an ICT expert, Educator, Consultant, Pastor, lawyer, Political & Social commentator. He has lectured Law, Ethics and Security & Intelligence Studies at the University level here in Nigeria and US. Prof AOA Akpodiete was also certified to teach Computer Science and Mathematics by the State of Florida. He currently divides his time between Nigeria and USA. Contact him on 08138391661 or [email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Prof. Alex O. Atawa Akpodiete, Esq. and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Prof. Alex O. Atawa Akpodiete, Esq.