Despite gains since 1990, poverty is still a severe reality for millions of Africans. Due to population growth, the absolute number of Africans living in poverty is on the rise again, and poverty has become more concentrated in rural areas. Accelerating poverty reduction, economic growth and stability are not enough – these need to be accompanied by increased earnings and mitigated risks for the poor.

These are some of the highlights of the report Accelerating Poverty Reduction in Africa, published by the World Bank in October 2019. Authors Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaensen presented the report at a seminar co-hosted by INCLUDE and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague on 22 November. The highlights of this seminar are shown in the video below.

More than just a presentation of the report, the seminar enabled a policy discussion on the implications of the report. Kitty van der Heijden, Director General of International Cooperation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasised that the report contains not only the diagnostics of poverty, but also delves into the political economy of why poverty persists. She aligned herself with a key message of Beegle and Christiaensen: to put the poor in the driver seat to enable them to graduate from poverty.

A panel consisting of Simon Groot (EastWestSeed and 2019 World Food Prize winner), Professor Peter Lanjouw (VU University), Dr Maty Konte (UNU-MERIT) and Professor Rolph van der Hoeven (UN-CDP/ISS) examined some of the findings in the report more. Some of the issues that came up were spatial differences in the drivers of poverty (are rural and urban poverty such different phenomena?), the importance of staple crops in providing adequate income and the scope of redistribution as a policy option to reduce poverty. A recurring issue was not just what types of policies and programmes are needed, but by whom they need to be implemented and what political and fiscal space they require in (Pan-)African national contexts.

 

The presentation by Beegle and Christiaensen can be accessed here. You can also read the full report or its key messages.

 

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