What Works for Africa’s Extreme Poor: Identification and Measurement of Programmes and Policies

Researcher: David Lawson
Project started: 2018

While there has been substantial progress in reducing global poverty in recent years, in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) there is consistent evidence that hundreds of millions of people are trapped in extreme poverty. While the proportion of poor sub-Saharan Africans may be falling, the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty has increased, and 90 % of extremely poor people will live in SSA, by 2030. Despite several African countries experiencing rapid economic growth, over intermittent periods, covering the last three decades, and some progress in human development (especially child mortality), many poverty reduction initiatives – be they mediated by economic growth or by public action – have not benefited the extreme poor.

The project is a continuation of the “What Works for the Poorest” series of international conferences, policy events and outputs.

The ongoing project identifies at novel concepts of identifying and understanding extreme poverty. The project identifies the policies and practices that are most (and least) effective in supporting the poorest and identify the features that explain their success. For example, there are a number of programmes that have begun to provide support to the poorest people, households, social groups and regions so that they too can subsequently access the benefits that may come from growth and public policies. Such programmes (including social assistance, food-for-work, nutrition schemes, etc.) and practices are vitally important in moral terms, reducing human deprivation and suffering, but also in more instrumental terms, such as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The micro-macro policy analysis has helped built project networks across SSA. Raising the awareness of policymakers and the public about the means by which Africa’s poorest people can be assisted. The latest connected outreach focuses on tax reform in Africa.

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