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Weeks, John and Stein, Howard (2012) 'African poverty, gender and insecurity.' In: Stein, Howard and Fadlalla, Amal, (eds.), Gendered Insecurities, Health and Development in Africa. London: Routledge, pp. 124-142. (Routledge studies in development economics)

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Introduction Almost without exception, the countries of Africa south of the Sahara have extremely high rates of poverty and deprivation, which are manifested concretely in low life expectancies and health indicators. Substantial progress in reducing poverty requires long-term sustained growth which is equitably distributed at rates considerably higher than those experienced since the early 1980s. These three necessary characteristics of long-term growth-that growth is sustained, equitably distributed and more rapid-require purposeful government intervention. This has not been the case over the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, in no small part due to the ideologically driven policies of multilateral and many bilateral aid donors and lenders (Weeks and Stein, 2006). This chapter presents a macroeconomic framework for sustained, equitable and rapid growth that is feasible for the low-income countries of the sub-Saharan region. The second section considers the character of poverty in the region and mechanisms to alleviate this poverty in the short term. The flaws in all varieties of means testing are discussed, leading to a proposal for gender-focused universal benefits. Poverty elimination is a long-term process that requires poverty alleviation in the short term. In other words, the immediate suffering of the poor should be addressed, be it hunger, ill-health or insecurity from conflict. However, poverty alleviation does not usually result in poverty elimination or even reduction, both of which are central to improving human security and require a process of pro-poor growth, the combination of poverty-reducing investment and redistribution. Moreover, the failure of gender-based poverty interventions has been particularly pronounced and, as we will argue, largely due to conceptual problems in orthodox approaches to understanding the causes of poverty. The third section of this chapter develops guidelines for poverty reduction that seek to balance breadth of application with the fiscal constraints of governments, a gender-inclusive poverty reduction strategy that is countercyclical and growth enhancing.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Economics
ISBN: 9780415597845
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2021 11:31

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