According to the World Bank, “poverty is hunger, poverty is lack”. This shows that it is not only the absence of money that makes someone poor but also the absence of other things that make life easier for an individual.
The ripple effects of the pandemic and rising inflation caused by the war in Ukraine have created a setback in the fight against poverty. Recently, the World Bank revealed that an additional 75 to 95 million people will the added to people living in extreme poverty in 2022.
In Nigeria, the World Bank projected that the number of poor persons will rise to 95.1 million in 2022. Recall that on November 17, 2022, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) launched the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index(MPI). Read more on that here.
These projections on poverty are quite alarming. They also raise questions regarding how best to tackle the menace. We have some postulations on this.
“Poverty is best tackled locally”
The above quote, attributed to the World Bank, suffices the importance of states and local governments in a heterogeneous society like Nigeria in the fight against poverty.
The states and local governments are the second and third tiers of government respectively. Nigeria is the largest country in Africa in terms of population and has 36 states plus the FCT and 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).
States and LGAs are closest to the people
The states and local governments are the first steps in contacting the people. That’s because they are much closer to the people.
The Federal Government is saddled with the responsibility of improving the overall standard of living in a country and also creating an enabling environment for its citizens to prosper.
Another one of its responsibility is to maintain goodwill with other countries across the world. This means the government has little or no contact with people, especially those in rural areas. As such, it delegates powers to the state government which further delegates power to the local governments.
Also, projects carried out by the Federal Government will most likely not get to the core areas where people live. For instance, in Nigeria, there are roads often marked as federal roads. In most cases, these roads are between and serve as a linkage between two or more states.
With agriculture being one of the biggest contributors to Nigeria’s economy, the local government has to create a good network of roads to ensure farm produce leaves rural areas before it is transported to urban areas. This not only reduces hunger and poverty but also improves the economy of the rural areas, where most multi-dimensionally poor Nigerians live.
More reasons states and LGAs are important in the fight against poverty
To provide well-equipped schools, well-staffed health care centres, and drinkable water among other amenities across the country, states and local governments are crucial. Their ability to make provision for all of these goes a long way in reducing poverty.
Something you should know
There is a difference between monetary poverty and multidimensional poverty. While multidimensional poverty includes all of the indicators highlighted in the NBS report, monetary poverty involves people living under $1.90 per person per day.
This global poverty line in September 2022 increased to $2.15 per person per day. Using the $1.90 poverty line, the World Bank stated that 69.9 million people which represents 32% of the estimated 211 million people live in extreme poverty in the country.
The recent debate to grant Local Government Areas autonomy could help in the fight against and reduction of poverty in the country, as Local Governments will be adequately funded to provide basic amenities highlighted in the MPIs, thus improving the standard of living in the country.
Conclusively, the electorate is advised to pay more attention to state and local government elections as they have so many resources to reduce poverty. Although heavy impact macro-economic indicators like inflation, and exchange rates are determined on a federal level, states can attract FDI irrespective of the economic climate.
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