Lessons Nigeria can learn from India in poverty fight

Lessons Nigeria can learn from India in poverty fight

Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa and the world’s poverty capital can learn a lot from India, the second most populated country in the world.

The number of people living in extreme poverty in India is falling while the opposite is true in Nigeria, where the population is growing faster than its economy.

 Extreme poverty rises in Nigeria by six people each minute, according to calculations by the World Poverty Clock, a tool to monitor progress against poverty globally developed by the World Data Lab, and regionally. Meanwhile, the number of extreme poor in India drops by 44 people a minute.

Economists define extreme poverty, also known as absolute poverty, as a condition where an individual lives on less than $1.90 a day. It is also referred to a situation where people lack access to the basic needs of life such as shelter, food, sanitation.

Last year, Washington-based Brookings Institute said Nigeria had overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty. According to the institute, about 87 million Nigerians or 44 percent of estimated population of 198 million people fell into this category.

Nigeria and India share a common similarity in terms of population. Nigeria’s estimated 198 million population is the largest in Africa, while  India is the second-highest in the world with a 1.3 billion population.

The poverty reduction polices used by the Indian government seem to be having a positive impact on its citizens according to a recent report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).The report showed that India nearly halved its poverty rate between 2005/06 and 2015/16, from 55 percent to 28 percent.

Integrated Rural Development Programme is one of such policies that the government introduced. The aim of the policy is to provide assets, generated by the dint of income, to the poorest people in India, according to Samudranil Chatterjee, an educator .

The programme was launched in 1978-79 at selected locations. However, by November 1980, the whole country had come under the programme’s purview.

Secondly, there is the Indira Awas Yojana which had been launched in 1985 and then revived in 1998-99.The aim of the programme is to provide rural housing benefits to create 20 lakh(is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand) houses across the country. 65 percent of which are supposed to be in the rural areas.

Thirdly there is the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which provides 100 days of work to people in villages across the country. So far it has become a successful programme as it is increasing the income levels of the poor rural dwellers.

Ayo Akinwunmi, Head of Research, FSDH Merchant Bank said that the India government has a lot of support system in terms of access to credit, access to technology and provision of quality education.

“All of these policies pull people out of poverty and in terms of health delivery they have cutting edge technology in that area .The government also gives them access to loans and that is what I think they are doing right,” Akinwunmi said.

Akinwunmi further advised that if these same policies are done in Nigeria, it will empower people and bring them out of poverty.

In 2014, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), a financial inclusion programme which is applicable to the age group of 18 to 65 years was launched. And this aims to expand and make affordable access to financial services such as bank accounts, remittances, credit, insurance and pensions.

Also there is Kisan Vikas Patra, a saving scheme that encourages small savings in the country.

“If you are able to fix the economy provided that the economy is sustained over a period of time you will see that growth will pick up and all the sectors of the economy will feel it,’’ says  Gbolahan Ologunro, an equity research analyst at Lagos-based CSL Stockbrokers.

For example, businesses will increase their demand for labour and if employment increases, people will earn more income and the poverty levels will come down you will see an improvement in unemployment the unemployment situation.”

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