10 Poorest Countries in the World

10 Poorest Countries in the World

Looking for the the poorest countries in the world? Sub-Saharan Africa is home to many of the poorest countries in the world according to a new measure developed by Oxford University with support from the United Nations (UN).

For 13 years, the UN’s annual report used the Human Poverty Index, which is based on length of life, knowledge and standard of living, to measure poverty in developing nations.

But, for the first time, in 2011, the UN used the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in the United Nations Human Development Report here.

Oxford University’s MPI is described as a “multidimensional picture of people living in poverty.”

It complements income measurements by “reflecting a range of deprivations that afflict a person’s life.” For example, if a household has a toilet, clean drinking water within a 30 minute walk electricity, school-aged children attending school and if any household members are malnourished.

A household is counted as “multidimensionally poor” if it is deprived of over 30% of the 10 MPI indicators.

These are the 10 poorest countries  in the world according to the MPI and they are all in Africa.

10 Poorest Countries in the World

1. Niger

Intensity of deprivation among the poor: 69.4%

Children wash clothes and swim in the Niger River at sunset, Niamey, Niger.

2. Ethiopia

Life expectancy at birth: 59.3 years.

10 Poorest Countries in the World

Ethiopian children outside their electricity and plumbing free homes

3. Mali

Percentage of people living on $2.00 a day or less: 77.1%

10 Poorest Countries in the World

World Vision sponsored children in Moimandu village, Gorama

4. Burkina Faso

Total adult literacy rate: 29%

10 Poorest Countries in the World

5. Burundi

Population below international poverty line of US$1.25 per day: 81%

10 Poorest Countries in the World

Children and women living off the land in Burundi

6. Somalia

Population with access to clean drinking-water: 30%

10 Poorest Countries in the World

Dollo Camp during the Horn of Africa drought

7. Central African Republic

GDP: $788.00 per capita

10 Poorest Countries in the World

8. Liberia

Children enrolled in secondary education: 24.7%

Often living with no electricity Liberians rely on scarce firewood for cooking

9. Guinea

Adult illiteracy rate: 11%

10 Poorest Countries in the World

Marie Kamara’s baby Yaya was barely two months old when the rebels attacked Pamelap and killed his father. For years Guinea has been a refuge for those fleeing fighting in Liberia and Sierra Leone. When rebels from across the Sierra Leone border attacked the town of Pamelap and surrounding area in September 2000, thousands of people fled. They now long to return home, but have nothing to return to. As they wait, their health and sanitation conditions remain deplorable, with widespread diarrhea, skin diseases and malnutrition as families sleep thirteen to a room, with no food, no medical care, no shelter and no seeds to plant for the next season.

10. Sierra Leone

Life expectancy: 48 years

10 Poorest Countries in the World

World Vision sponsored children in Moimandu village, Gorama

Can you help?

It’s heart-wrenching when you compare 10 poorest countries in the world to the 1o richest countries in the world.

If you’d like to help fight poverty and support people who live in developing countries you’ll love World Vision.

Through World Vision you can sponsor a child  or choose a gift  to donate to those in need on behalf of you or your family this Christmas.

The gifts are used to support global projects which improve the lives of children, families and communities in need. They start from only $5 for school pencils or water purification tablets. Or you could splurge $225 on a cow or $1,425 on clean water for an entire community. Now that would be a very happy Christmas for a lot of lovely people.

Thank You World Vision

For your work and for sharing your gorgeous photos with us.

What else can we do to support people who people who live in the poorest countries in the world?

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  1. Chartreuse December 20, 2011 at 8:42 am - Reply

    And still Marie Kamara has a smile that lights up the morning! Really, human beings are so incredibly resilient. But no one should have to be as resilient as these people. Thank you for reminding us what real need there is for giving and sharing – and not just as Christmas.

  2. se7en December 20, 2011 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Oh well done, great post!!! I have been waiting for this post and love how you put it together. As someone born and raised in Africa where so much poverty is on our doorstep, this post resonates with my heart. It is so easy to grumble about things when we have so much, there is a whole huge world of people out there. Out there is really just a step out the front door, folk who are more than content with what they have, and they don’t have a whole lot. There is so much to learn in this life and not a whole lot of these lessons can be learnt from the rich and famous amongst us.

  3. Grace December 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Wonderful post Annabel, it is amazing how many smiling faces you see in situations like this especially when there are so many sulky faces on people who have everything. I grew up in Central Africa, Zambia, it was the best experience ever and it truly breaks my heart to see what’s happening in many parts of Africa today. I agree with you about World Vision they are a fantastic organization and I adopted a child in Africa as soon as we arrived here in Australia, that was over thirty years ago now (blimey I’m old!!) and have watched five more grow up since then, really it’s an experience that everyone should try.

  4. barbara December 21, 2011 at 2:43 am - Reply

    Well done Annabel. Heart wrenching for sure. So funny you mentioned World Vision because I’ve set up my own Zero to 60 and beyond page of their catalogue in honor of my 3 grandsons. I’m hoping to reach $1000 in gifts purchased to help children in need.

  5. Sue December 21, 2011 at 2:56 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    Thanks for this post. I think in addition to donating to organizations like World Vision and Oxfam , we also need to actively support their campaigns aimed at eradicating the root causes of poverty (most often economic and social injustices) as well as other problems that exacerbate the problems.

    At a civic engagement level, that translates to writing to your MPs or Congress person on issues such as trade agreements, regulation of overseas production, climate change policies, and international aid commitments. At the personal level, it might be a commitment to buy only fair trade goods, not buying name brands that use sweat shop labour , etc. (Mind you, the flip side of the issue on sweat shop labour is that sometimes “unskilled” labour is the only kind of work that women can get in some developing countries, so perhaps the better strategy is to apply a lot of pressure to corporations to ensure their garment factories comply with human rights and labour laws.)

    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2011 at 9:14 am - Reply

      Hi Sue, thanks for adding this and love the idea about human rights and labour laws. That way everyone could come out on top:)

  6. Leonie December 21, 2011 at 11:05 am - Reply

    A timely post amongst the Christmas buying mania.

  7. Tracey December 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel, I’m a long term supporter of world vision – over 20 years – and have enjoyed following the journey of two young children who grew up safe and well with clean water, access to health and school.

    I’m just in the middle of a post about what I’ve done with this year’s “christmas cheer” money. Coming soon….

  8. Cate December 21, 2011 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Absolutely… well said, well timed. For the last couple of years my son’s music teacher has chosen to purchase an animal through World Vision and asked students to donate to this rather than give her Christmas gifts. Inspiring. As a teacher, it’s something I would like to do myself… just a matter of getting organised.
    I sponsor a child through World Vision, too, and love exchanging letters and news with him. He and my son are of a similar age and both soccer mad, and it is wonderful to think that we could have so much in common, and share the same sorts of interests, when we are worlds apart in so many other ways.
    I sometimes think of all the great things we have and know there is more that we could be doing.
    ps my father taught in Nigeria (where I was born) and said that he had never had such committed and interested students – education was not a given for these kids and they appreciated everything they could get… sometimes I wonder if we, here in the ‘lucky country’, ever really realise just what a precious gift education is!

    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2011 at 9:15 am - Reply

      Hi Cate, I taught in Zimbabwe too. Those kids really do appreciate the opportunity:)

      • Cate December 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm

        Hi Annabel,
        So brave… I would like to be strong enough to do something like that.
        Have you seen the new World Vision ‘One Just World’ link?

  9. ashley December 22, 2011 at 4:19 am - Reply

    while this is debatable if its a country (native american tribes have sovereignty and are considered their own nations), the U.S has one of the poorest places in the world. Look up Pine Ridge reservation – they mirror and sometimes exceed the statistics you have posted here!

    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2011 at 9:16 am - Reply

      Hi Ashley, great point and I’m sure it would be mirrored here in Australia by remote indigenous communities:(

  10. seana Smith December 22, 2011 at 5:41 am - Reply

    Good post for this time of year Annabel, I’m taken aback that all these 10 poorest countries are in Africa. Have always loved the giving of goats etc as a gift, it’s a great idea and worth so much more.

  11. Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living December 23, 2011 at 12:20 am - Reply

    As Chartreuse mentioned above, I am always amazed by how these children who have so little compared to kids where I live, still manage to smile and look so happy. I found the same in Belize, and wonder how to interpret the significance. Thanks Annabal, and I’m going to Barbara’s to help raise $1,000, as she mentioned. Merry Christmas to you and your followers. Sonia.

  12. Penelope J. December 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Unfortunately, all the above countries are in Africa, a continent also rich in natural resources, that has been bled over and over by civil wars, internal strife and external greed. What is to be done to help? Philanthropists and organizations have tried for decades to help, in large and small ways, but as long as there are internal problems, civil wars, slaughters, and greed, it’s hard to make real inroads and raise the poverty level. It seems like one of the biggest problems is access to drinking water, and this is a major issue in many parts of the world – not just Africa.

    Please, Anabel, as another project, perhaps you might try and find out which countries have or are managing to overcome poverty and make forward strides in health, literacy, nutrition, etc. and how.

  13. Tess The Bold Life January 1, 2012 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    Thanks for posting this story and beautiful photos. I think I’m blessed but from the looks on their faces, I think I’ve got it all wrong. You’re the best and this shows what a lovely person you truly are!

  14. Madonna February 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,
    Imagine if everyone in developed countries sponsored a child. It is a very rewarding experience. Cutting out a daily coffee in a paper cup would enable each of us to sponsor 3 children every month, drastically reduce landfill and save countless trees.

    Not that complicated really.


  15. Ashok Shukla March 5, 2012 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Small helps are too little too late !

    The systematic reduction of human capital in the world of economics has created this extreme poverty.

    It is high time we start thinking about investments in Africa. There are fears of arson and looting, but African economies offer enough liberty of securing your own businesses.

    Also, Africa offers a lot of natural, untapped resources.

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  17. Mademoiselle Slimalicious July 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    This is very sad. I’ve just returned from a trip to Kenya and Tanzania last month. We visited the East Africa Mission Orphanage in Kenya, it was a heart breaking experience.

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