7 Poorest Countries in the World By GNI and HDI
There are factors other than money and cents that determine which nations are the poorest in the world. Furthermore, classifying the world’s poorest nations is more complex than simply ranking total wealth. In some of the most vulnerable nations, data are frequently difficult to come by, and relying solely on a country’s GDP as a ranking factor does not take into account all of its wealth.
We rank these nations based on their GNI, as well as their own human development index (HDI) value, expected years of schooling, mean years of schooling, and life expectancy at birth, with an emphasis on the United Nations Human Development Report.
All of these nations have extremely fragile economies that are underdeveloped and have either recently experienced civil wars or are currently dealing with ongoing sectarian or ethnic conflicts. Although it’s never a complete picture, it gives us a more holistic view of how we might go about ranking nations according to their levels of poverty.
The Sahara desert covers 80% of this landlocked nation, and with a population that is expanding quickly and is largely dependent on small-scale agriculture, Niger is at risk from desertification and climate change. The army’s frequent clashes with jihadist group and Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate Boko Haram have caused thousands of people to flee their homes, and there is severe food insecurity as well as high disease and mortality rates. The extraction of priceless natural resources like gold and uranium has been one of the main drivers of the economy, but it has also been hampered by volatility and low commodity prices.
The UN’s human development report ranks Niger as the world’s poorest nation, with a GNI per capita of $906, a life expectancy of 60.4 years, and a mean 2 years of schooling (as opposed to an expected 5.4 years). According to World Bank statistics from 2014, 44.5% of the nation’s 21.5 million residents live in extreme poverty.
Despite having abundant natural resources like gold, oil, uranium, and diamonds, this world’s most hungry nation has held the title of the poorest in the world for the better part of a decade. More than 500,000 people have fled to neighboring nations, and sizable portions of the nation are still under the control of anti-government militias and rebel groups, so the road to recovery is still very long.
The Central African Republic was the only nation with hunger levels that the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2018 deemed to be “extremely alarming.” Given that the UN reports a life expectancy of only 52.9 years and 2008 World Bank estimates that 62% of Central Africans are living at or below the poverty line, it is clear that hunger and poverty are related. The country’s GNI per capita is $663, and its average school age is 4.3 years, as opposed to the expected 7.2 years.
The world’s newest country is South Sudan. Although it only attained independence in July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan has a long history of conflict, displacement, and growing humanitarian needs. Over 82% of South Sudanese people, according to World Bank estimates, live in extreme poverty as of 2016.
Life expectancy is only 57 years old, GNI per capita is $1,455, and mean years of education are comparable to expected years (4.8 and 5 years, respectively). With over 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees living abroad and an additional 1.74 million internally displaced, the pressure of widespread displacement puts an undue strain on people’s capacity to cope.
Due to the Hutu-Tutsi ethnic conflict and civil war that tore through it, Burundi is a small landlocked country that ranks highly for poverty. Because nearly 12 million of its citizens depend on subsistence agriculture and the vast majority of them earn less than $1.25 per day, food scarcity is a significant problem in this country. In fact, compared to other sub-Saharan African countries, this one has a level of food insecurity that is almost twice as high. The World Bank also highlights the extremely low levels of access to water and sanitation, as well as the fact that less than 5% of the population has access to electricity.
Contrary to many other countries on this list, life expectancy has increased by almost 5 years, but its GNI per capita has decreased in 2019 compared to 2018 — from $702 to $660. Most children only complete three years of school, as opposed to the typical expectation of an 11-year education. With 740 deaths per 100,000 live births, it’s one of the most hazardous places in the world to give birth.
This 3.5 million-person country in East Africa is one of the least developed countries in the world. In the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom of the Heritage Foundation, Eritrea was ranked 47th out of 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, with about 65% of its population living in rural areas and 80% of them depending on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.
Due to social, political, and violent unrest, nearly 12% of the nation’s population has also been displaced, contributing to one of the biggest current refugee crises in the world.
The oldest republic in Africa has long been considered one of the world’s poorest countries. Although the nation has experienced peace and stability since the end of the civil war in 2003, its governments have fallen short in addressing serious structural issues and systemic issues. The fact that this 4.9 million person nation had a difficult time recovering from both the severe Ebola epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014 and the drop in commodity prices only made matters worse.
With a 63-year life expectancy, the GNI per capita is only $667. The West African Ebola epidemic of 2014–16, which infected 10,675 Liberians and claimed 4,809 lives, also had a severe impact on Liberia. According to the World Bank’s most recent survey of the nation, conducted in 2016, nearly 51% of the population was estimated to be living below the poverty line, leaving a lasting impact on the livelihoods of survivors. Even though 10 years of education are recommended, the average Liberian only finishes 4.7 years of school.
Mozambique is a resource-rich nation that is working hard to develop one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. The nation is still recovering, though, from a 16-year civil war that started in 1975, when it declared independence from Portugal, and ended in 1992.
According to the 2018 UN Human Development Report, the average GNI per person is $1,093 and the average life expectancy is 58.9. Over 46% of Mozambicans, according to the World Bank’s most recent estimate from 2014, live in poverty. Although it is expected that citizens will finish 9.7 years of education, the average number of years spent in school is only 3.5.
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