30 Countries With Extreme Poverty

In this article, we discuss the 30 Countries With Extreme Poverty. If you would like to skip our detailed analysis of the subject, you can go directly to 10 Countries With Extreme Poverty.

The World Bank’s research about poverty, last updated in October 2023, finds that about eight percent of the global population lives in extreme poverty, which means that around 700 million people in the world survive on less than $2.15 per day. According to another Poverty and Shared Prosperity report published by the organization in 2022, almost a quarter of the global population lived below the lower-middle-income countries’ poverty line of $3.65. Moreover, almost half of the global population, precisely 47 percent, lived below the upper-middle-income countries’ poverty line of $6.85.

Although the scale of extreme global poverty remains vast, the number of extremely poor people has declined significantly over the past three decades. As reported by the World Bank, 2 billion people were living in extreme poverty in 1990, and from 1990 to 2019, the number was reduced to around 700 million. 

While poverty is decreasing on a global level, in some parts of the world, the poverty rate has been on the rise for the past few years. For example, in the United States, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rate, a poverty measure involving cash income and government benefits, was 12.4% in 2022, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. Compared to 2021, the rate increased by 4.6%, which can be explained by the catastrophic effects of COVID-19 on the job market worldwide. 

Apart from COVID-19, there have been, and are still, many causes leading to an increase in poverty in a country. One of them is wars. Wars and conflicts between countries have always come equipped with a great cost to the lives of civilians who are displaced and forced to live in extremely poor conditions. One such geopolitical conflict is going on between Israel and Palestine that has led to over 16 years of forced blockade in Gaza by Israel. According to UNRWA, 81.5% of the population in Gaza, a Palestinian district, is living below the poverty line as of 2020 data. The numbers have, of course, drastically increased in the wake of the ongoing genocide. Apart from armed conflicts and violent events, other prominent reasons for poverty in different countries worldwide are inflation, discrimination, and poor governance.

Economic Solutions to Poverty

Countries have tried many economic reforms to reduce the poverty rate as much as they can. In the short term, the government can apply direct provision policies for poor people, such as food assistance, housing assistance, and family tax credits. But if the country has a poor GDP (See: 50 Poorest Countries Based on GDP Per Capita (2023 PPP)), direct provision policies are usually ineffective here. Therefore, to solve poverty in the long run, a government has to use long-term policies, such as spending on education, making reforms that attract MNCs and other private companies to the country, and reducing barriers to investment and credit markets for poor people. 

On the other hand, there are several NGOs and companies such as Broad Capital Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ: BRAC), Mastercard Inc (NYSE: MA), and Visa Inc (NYSE: V) that are contributing significantly towards the collective effort of bringing down poverty globally. 

Broad Capital Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ: BRAC) is a non-profit human service organization with a vision to fight poverty and make everyone self-sufficient. Aiming to minimize the impact of poverty on people’s lives, Broad Capital Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ: BRAC) offers various assistance programs, such as food and fuel assistance and other financial stability programs, like loans and savings accounts, for low-income households. 

Meanwhile, Mastercard Inc (NYSE: MA), a global payment technology company, introduced its Mastercard Impact Fund (MIF) in 2018. MIF is a private and independently directed 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation that has committed over $320 million in grants to around 172 organizations. The Mastercard Inc (NYSE: MA) philanthropic foundation has helped enable 5.5 million people and 25 million small businesses across 97 countries to access financial services, tools, and other support systems. 

Similar to Mastercard Inc., Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is an American multinational payment card services company that is also involved in philanthropic work for social equity. With valuable tools and resources, Visa Inc (NYSE: V) helps fund, run, and scale small and micro businesses.

So, while poverty is a global issue, many International Organizations, NGOs, and companies are working to bring down the poverty rates. In this list, we discuss the 30 Countries With Extreme Poverty.

30 Countries With the Highest Poverty Rates

30 Countries With the Highest Poverty Rates

Our Methodology

For our list of 30 Countries With Extreme Poverty, we have collected information from the most recent data available from The World Bank. The list is ranked in ascending order; going from the country with the thirtieth-highest poverty rate to the first-highest.

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30 Countries With Extreme Poverty

30. Chad

Poverty Rate: 42.30%

Chad, a country in Central Africa, has a population of 18.6 million, and a poverty rate of 42.30%. Besides poverty, the population also struggles with crucial issues like limited access to clean water and healthcare. Chad is one of the countries with the highest poverty rates due to its political instability, corruption, and frequent conflict. Agricultural challenges also worsen the situation and have left many facing hunger.

29. Comoros 

Poverty Rate: 42.40%

Ranked 29th, Comoros is another country that struggles with widespread poverty (42.40%), inadequate healthcare, and limited resources. Fragile economic structures, over-reliance on agriculture, and political instability hinder development in Comoros. The country is also susceptible to natural disasters which further exaggerate the country’s challenges with poverty.

28. Guinea

Poverty Rate: 43.70%

Despite having abundant resources and natural riches, Guinea still has a poverty rate of 43.70%. Limited structures and mass corruption are the main challenges Guinea is currently facing. The country was further pushed into poverty following inflation in 2021. 

27. Mali

Poverty Rate: 44.60%

Mali, a country in West Africa, has a poverty rate of 44.60%. The problems caused by poverty are further amplified by desertification, educational gaps, and insufficient infrastructure. Among other reasons, persistent ethnic tensions and security issues in the northern regions of the country, also contribute to Mali’s struggle against poverty. While Mali has a thriving gold mining sector, it employs between 20,000 and 40,000 children, subjected to some of the worst forms and conditions of child labor.

26. Togo 

Poverty Rate: 45.50%

Located in the Gulf of Guinea, Togo is one of the poorest countries in the world with a poverty rate of 45.50%. The agricultural sector in Togo, which contributes more than 40% of the country’s GDP, faces climate-related challenges. Political turbulence, external debts, lack of resources, and lowered commodity prices further cast a shadow of gloom on Togo’s plans for prosperity.

25. Mozambique 

Poverty Rate: 46.10%

Although it is blessed with natural beauty, Mozambique struggles with a high poverty rate of 46.10%. The country’s economic development was stunted after the Mozambican civil war that ended in 1992. As of today, Mozambique faces several issues aside from poverty, including poor water quality, inadequate sanitary conditions, limited healthcare access, and the spread of deadly diseases like Malaria. 

24. Sudan

Poverty Rate: 46.50%

Sudan has a poverty rate of 46.50% and its population faces a deepening hunger crisis, with over 18 million people facing hunger in the country. Internal conflicts, political instability, and the secession of South Sudan have put a strain on Sudan’s economic growth. The uneven distribution of resources and minimum access to basic services are other issues that plague the people living in Sudan.

23. Senegal 

Poverty Rate: 46.70%

Senegal happens to be one of the most stable countries in West Africa. However, poverty still prevails in the nation — standing at a whopping 46.70%. 

The main reason for poverty in Senegal is the country’s high unemployment rates, particularly amongst the youth. Senegal also faces economic challenges due to vulnerability to climate change, dependence on agriculture, and limited industrial diversification. Corruption is rampant in Senegal, exposing its people to problems like food insecurity and poor healthcare.

22. Guinea Bissau 

Poverty Rate: 47.70% 

Guinea Bissau’s high poverty rate of 47.70% stems from frequent coups, political unrest, and corruption. Other than these man-made issues, Guinea Bissau also suffers from natural issues like irregular rainfall, which affects agricultural growth — this is especially disastrous because 85% of the population in Guinea Bissau relies on the agricultural sector for income. The country also heavily relies on its cashew exports, which leaves its economy vulnerable to external market fluctuations.

21. Honduras 

Poverty Rate: 48%

Honduras’ economic growth is hindered by political issues, inequality, and limited access to basic services, and its poverty rate is one of the highest in the world. Furthermore, the country’s susceptibility to natural disasters creates challenges in its agricultural sector. High levels of crime in Honduras discourage foreign investments, and the lack of educational resources also keeps the country in a cycle of poverty. 

20. Yemen 

Poverty Rate: 48.60%

Yemen has a staggering poverty rate of 48.60%, fueled by prolonged conflict. The ongoing civil war has led to infrastructure destruction, hindering development in Yemen. The population relies heavily on humanitarian aid for survival. Bloodshed, hunger, poverty, and destruction of land and lives alongside harsh weather conditions make life difficult for the population, and make survival a constant challenge. Fortunately, many charities like WFP, Save The Children, and Good Deed Charity are working in the country to help the people as much as they possibly can. 

19. Lesotho 

Poverty Rate: 49.70%

Lesotho is a lower-middle-income country in Southeast Africa with a population of 2.281 million. However, the country has a poverty rate of 49.70% as of 2017 (last updated 2022).

One of the primary reasons behind Lesotho’s high poverty rate is its geographical structure — the mountainous terrains limit agricultural productivity. Water scarcity is another problem since it impacts the country’s vital textile industry. High levels of HIV/AIDS in the country strain its workforce, limiting economic growth. 

18. Malawi

Poverty Rate: 50.70%

Malawi has a poverty rate of 50.70% and its economic struggles are rooted in a combination of factors. Agriculture, the country’s primary source of livelihood, is constantly challenged by climate change. Political corruption and insufficient infrastructure hinder economic growth while a high population density strains resources in Malawi.

17. Liberia 

Poverty Rate: 50.90%

Liberia’s high poverty rates are due to its history of civil wars, leaving the country with a shattered infrastructure and a suffering economy. The country’s dependence on agriculture, hindered by a lack of technology and skills, contributes to its economic challenges. Weak governance, corruption, and limited access to basic services add to Liberia’s growing poverty rates.

16. Gambia

Poverty Rate: 53.40%

Poverty prevails in Gambia, with the country’s small size limiting economic diversification. Irregular rainfall patterns affect crop yields, creating a good insecurity issue in Gambia. Political instability, along with a history of coups, puts off foreign investments. These issues have left the tourism-dependent country of Gambia facing major poverty issues.

15. Zambia 

Poverty Rate: 54.40%

Zambia, another country in Africa that struggles with poverty, is heavily dependent on its copper production, leaving the country vulnerable to market fluctuations. This, coupled with food insecurity, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of affordable housing contributes to Zambia’s high poverty rate of 54.40%. 

14. Somalia

Poverty Rate: 54.40%

Somalia’s persistent poverty is linked to ongoing conflicts within the country, which hinder its economic stability and basic service provision. Piracy in maritime trade has also affected key industries in the country such as fishing, which is one of the primary livelihood sources in Somalia. These issues leave Somalia with a poverty rate of 54.40 percent; highly dependent on support from international countries.

13. Afghanistan 

Poverty Rate: 54.50%

Afghanistan’s high poverty rate of 54.50% is linked to the Taliban rule, security challenges, and the disruption of infrastructure. Dependence on agriculture, which is often strained by droughts and extreme weather, further strains livelihood in the country.

12. South Africa

Poverty Rate: 55.50%

South Africa’s economic issues stem from historical inequalities during the apartheid era. To this day, South Africa struggles with high levels of unemployment and a poverty rate of 55.50%. Corruption and political challenges also affect the country and contribute to its socio-economic imbalances.

11. Sao Tome and Principe 

Poverty Rate: 55.50%

Sao Tome and Principe is a small country with a population of 223,107 and a poverty rate of 55.50%. While the country has natural beauty, its isolated location poses logistical challenges. The country also faces food scarcity issues that are fueled by a struggling agriculture and livestock sector.

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Disclosure: None. 30 Countries With Extreme Poverty is originally published on Insider Monkey.