What Nigeria’s poorest states have in common

Sokoto, Bayelsa, Jigawa, Kebbi, and Gombe states have been ranked as the poorest states in Nigeria based on the Multidimensional Poverty Index (2022) report recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The Nigeria MPI has four dimensions, namely health, education, living standards, and work and shocks, while each of these metrics has its sub factors that capture the many forms the problems exist for better understanding and policy response.

The states with the highest number of poor people have in common monetary poverty, a poor population of more than 90 percent, deprivations in years of schooling, food security, unemployment and shocks, access to water, greater nutritional deprivations, while the proportion of child population under 5 living in multidimensional poverty is above 50 percent in all the states.

The NBS said both the monetary and non-monetary poverty measures are needed to enhance the understanding of the policies intended to address the needs and deprivations faced by poor populations.

“The fact that the incidence of monetary poverty is lower than the incidence of multidimensional poverty across most states implies that the Nigeria MPI (2022) is making visible part of the population who are not identified as poor by the national monetary measure. This provides a clearer picture of poverty in Nigeria and contributes to informing a more comprehensive policy response,” the report said.

In terms of the intensity of poverty, the poorest states are Sokoto, Bayelsa, Jigawa, Kebbi and Gombe. The indicators, which showed Sokoto, Bayelsa, Jigawa, Kebbi, and Gombe are the poorest states, include nutrition, food insecurity, time to healthcare, school attendance, years of schooling, school lag, water, water reliability, sanitation, housing materials, cooking fuel, assets, unemployment, underemployment, and security shock.

The report said: “In three of the poorest districts — Kebbi South, Yobe South, and Sokoto North — deprivations in years of schooling and food security contribute most to MPI in Kebbi South, but in Yobe South and Sokoto North, it is deprivations in school attendance.

“The incidence of multidimensional poverty — the proportion of the child population under 5 living in multidimensional poverty — is above 50 percent in all states, and greater than 95 percent in Bayelsa, Sokoto, Gombe, and Kebbi.

“In the 10 poorest senatorial districts according to the Nigeria Child MPI, 91 percent to 99 percent of children under 5 are poor. These senatorial districts are Bayelsa West, Kebbi South, Yobe South, Sokoto North, Yobe North, Jigawa North East, Plateau South, Taraba North, Kebbi Central, and Jigawa North West.”

The report said: “In a federal system, it is vital to understand the level of poverty by state. Poverty levels across states vary significantly, with the proportion of the population (incidence) living in multidimensional poverty ranging from a low of 27 percent in Ondo to a high of 91 percent in Sokoto.

“In general, the incidence of monetary poverty is lower than the incidence of multidimensional poverty across most states. Abia, Ebonyi, Jigawa, and Sokoto have similar proportions of people identified as poor using both measures, while Taraba and Adamawa have higher levels of monetary poverty.”

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The report stated that Bayelsa is distinct from the other poorer states in having the largest contribution across all states in unemployment and shocks, adding that “even when comparing Kebbi and Jigawa, which are somewhat more similar, we see a much greater challenge in access to water and greater nutritional deprivations in Kebbi, as well as school lag and underemployment in Jigawa.”

Addressing the poverty challenge varies across the sub-national governments in Nigeria, due in part to the intensity and peculiarity of poverty in each state.

“It will be more expensive to reduce poverty in Zamfara, where the intensity of poverty is higher, at 42 percent, than in Lagos (34 percent), because each poor person in Zamfara, on average, faces more deprivations at the same time,” NBS added.