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1.1 Background of the study

According to Okurut,Odwee and Adebua(2002) “Poverty alleviation is a key policy debate in recent development literature”. The authors noted that many researchers of development economics have argued that the fight against poverty is a necessary condition for growth. The elaboration of policies for poverty allev1iation requires a thorough knowledge of the poverty phenomenon as well as an understanding of the efficiency of implemented programmes (Okurut et al., 2002).

The World Bank report (1990) stated that the burden of poverty is spread evenly among regions of the developing world, among countries within those regions and among localities within those countries. According to the report, nearly half of the world's poor live in south Asia, a region that accounts for about 30% of the world's population. People in sub-Saharan Africa, along with those in south Asia, are among the poorest in the world, both in real incomes and in access to social services. About 45% of the approximately 590 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live below the national poverty lines (World Bank, 1990).

Similarly, Skoufias and Lopez-Acevedo (2009) noted that in spite of the economic growth experienced by Latin American countries, poverty is still high and tends to be geographically concentrated. Governments in the region have responded proactively to these regional inequalities in their countries, introducing diverse poverty alleviation programs. Many of these programs are targeted towards poor regions, while other programs are targeted directly towards poor people. This dichotomy reflects a lack of consensus on how to deal with the problem of differences in the standard of living between regions (leading and lagging regions) and within regions (urban vs. rural areas within a given region).

Poverty may be due to national, sector-specific, community, household or individual characteristics (Poverty manual, 2005). The report noted key causes or correlates of poverty to include: Regional-level characteristics: these include vulnerability to flooding or typhoons; remoteness; quality of governance; property rights and their enforcement.


Community level characteristics: these include the availability of infrastructure (roads, water, and electricity) and services (health, education), proximity to markets, and social relationships. Household and individual characteristics: Among the most important are: Demographic: household size, age structure, dependency ratio, gender of head. Economic: employment status, hours worked, property owned. Social: health and nutritional status, education, shelter.

At the regional level, there are numerous characteristics that might be associated with poverty. The relationship of these characteristics with poverty is country-specific. In general, however, poverty is high in areas characterized by geographical isolation, a low resource base, low rainfall, and other inhospitable climatic conditions. For example, many argue that economic development in Bangladesh is severely retarded due to its susceptibility to annual floods; and Nghe, a province in north-centralVietnam is poor in part because it is regularly hit by typhoons, which destroy a significant part of the accumulated stock of capital(Glewwe,Agrawal and Dollar, 2004).

In Nigeria, the incidence of poverty has generally been on the rise since 1980, with two significant dips during 1985-1992 and 1996-2004. Focusing on the most recent surveys (1996 and 2004) the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report (2005) noted that the national poverty incidence was 65.6 percent in 1996 and declined to 54.4 percent in 2004. Similarly, in 1996, the poverty depth (P1) and poverty severity (P2) were 0.358 and 0.207, but these decreased respectively to 0.225 and 0.122 in 2004.

By 1996 all states were in Poverty except one state with 44.3percent incidence of poverty. Among those state noticeably in 2004, a total of 13 states had moved out of poverty starting with Kwara 43.25 percent poor to Lagos 11.81 percent poor people. A graphical presentation of the state poverty (as shown on page 18 of this work) showed that while poverty incidence was declining in some states, it was actually increasing in states like Jigawa, Kebbi and Yobe states.

In terms of geopolitical classification, poverty incidence, depth, and severity are higher in all three northern Nigeria regions than in the three southern regions for 1996 and


2004.The North West, North East and North Central zones have the highest poverty incidence, depth and severity in descending order while the South West, South East, and South South have the lowest poverty incidence(Omonona, 2010). The author noted that all zones witnessed reductions in their poverty measures (incidence, depth and severity) from 1996 to 2004 except the North West where poverty incidence increased from 72.7 percent to 76.4 percent. The reductions in the poverty incidence, depth, and severity for rural households in the southern zones are greater than those achieved by their northern counterparts. Hence, it could be concluded that poverty is more prevalent in the northern zones than in the southern zones (Omonona, 2010). The table below shows the percentage distribution of self-assessed poverty by zone and sectors in the country:

Table 1.1: Percentage Distribution of Self Assessed Poverty by Zone


Very Poor

Averagely Poor

Not Poor































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