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Africa Still Mired in Poverty, Food Insecurity, Despite Economic Growth

Oct 01, 2013 02:23 PM EDT

Nearly one in five people in Africa live without frequent access to clean water, food and medical care, despite continued reports of economic growth throughout the continent, according to the Afrobarometer project, an independent research endeavor that measures the social, political and economic atmosphere in Africa.

Carolyn Logan, assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University and Afrobarometer deputy director, said the data suggest that Africa's economic growth is not trickling down to the poorest citizens or that the actual growth rates are inflated.

Between 2002 and 2011, Africa's gross domestic product grew by an average of 4.8 percent.

"The survey results show there is a disconnect between reported growth and the persistence - in both frequency and severity - of poverty among ordinary citizens," Logan said. "It's evident that African governments need to focus as much attention on poverty reduction efforts as they are on growing their economies."

The fifth edition of the Afrobarometer survey, which is released ever few years, was published Tuesday in Johannesburg, South Africa. Between now and the end of the year, several additional reports detailing topics such as Internet use, corruption and democracy will be released.

Thirty-four countries were included in the survey, 14 more than the last edition of Afrobarometer, which was released in 2009.

The recent data indicate that 17 percent of Africans surveyed frequently go without food, 22 percent lack regular access to clean water, and 20 percent often go without medical care. About 50 percent of Africans surveyed said they occasionally go without these necessities.

People in West and East Africa reported these problems more than people living in the northern and southern regions.

Additionally, 53 percent of Africans viewed their national economy negatively, and 38 percent said their national economy had gotten worse in the past year.

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