Africa is the third largest continent in the world and one of the richest in mineral resources. However, most African countries are developing. It is estimated that more than 50% of the population lives in a situation of extreme poberty. Here we show you what are the causes of this situation.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.


Malnutrition is the main problem for the African continent. It is a direct consequence of the extreme poverty suffered by African countries. By malnutrition we understand the lack of food or the insufficient intake of the amount of calories, minerals, vitamins and essential nutrients for the maintenance of a state of health and weight according to age.

It can cause various health problems and diseases, some mild and others chronic or very serious, mostly related to deficiencies in the development and normal growth of children. The main diseases are the following:

  • AnemiaIron is necessary for the growth of children, so the lack of it in the diet can cause irreversible delays in brain development. The most common symptoms are pale skin, poor appetite, cold hands and feet, weakness, etc.
  • Goiter: The lack of iodine in the diet is what causes this disease in which the thyroid gland swells in the neck, resulting in the formation of a large mass. It can cause mental retardation in children.
  • Diabetes mellitus: it is a type of diabetes associated with malnutrition that manifests itself in the long term. Its most frequent symptoms are: polyuria (urinating too much liquid), fatigue, weight loss, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, nutritional deficiency ...
  • kwashiorkor: It is due to the lack of protein in the food that is eaten. It is a disease typical of children in underdeveloped countries whose main symptom is fluid retention, which causes abdominal distension (prominence of the abdomen).
  • Marasmus: the lack of calories and protein leads to this disease, which results in an extremely thin and fragile appearance, as well as deficiencies in development.

According to data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO), currently between 3 and 5 children under the age of 5 die annually from malnutrition and diseases derived from it. In fact, hunger is the leading cause of death among children, accounting for almost 50% of deaths of children under 5 years of age, making it more lethal than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined.

Child mortality

According to data collected by the PRB (for its acronym in English of Population Reference Bureau) in 2008, infant mortality rates in the different countries of the world have fallen in recent decades, a fact that has been key to the increase in life expectancy and reproductive efficiency on the planet, partly thanks to the boom of the call fertility tourism and assisted reproduction.

The list, headed by Norway and Iceland with the best success rates in the world, has an average number of deaths of children under 1 year and 4 years for every 1.000 children born. In it, the 20 countries with the worst mortality rates belong to Africa, with Niger being the one with the most alarming data.

Similarly, improve the maternal health It is another of the objectives of NGOs around the world. It is estimated that around 600.000 pregnant women die each year from infections, obstructed labor, or hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. 20% of the illnesses suffered by children under 5 years of age are related to poor health and nutrition in their mothers.

UNICEF estimates that the number of children orphaned and vulnerable to the AIDS virus will rise to 25 million by the end of the decade, of which 18 million will be in sub-Saharan Africa. The foundation Save The Children It is estimated that 12.000 children lose their lives every day on the African continent due to causes related to malnutrition and diseases such as malaria or diarrhea.


Although Africa is one of the richest continents in terms of landscapes, fauna and flora, the African reality is dramatic: more than 300 million people live on less than a dollar a day and at least 43% of the population does not have access to drinking water. In short, Africa is considered the poorest region in the world today, which is known as Third World.

Rural areas of Morocco they are one of the areas most affected by poverty within Africa. It is estimated that 20% of its rural inhabitants suffer from unemployment, especially among the younger population. Marginalization and lack of access to education and basic services are two other major problems plaguing rural Morocco today.

South Sudan is another of the countries with the highest rates of poverty within the continent and one of the poorest countries on the planet. After the war period, poverty began to spread rapidly throughout the territory largely due to droughts, poor land management, poor agriculture, etc.

However, an attempt is being made to enhance the agricultural potential of this country through the initiative Shopping for Progress (P4P).

Madagascar is another of the African countries with the highest rates of poverty, not only because 50% of children suffer from malnutrition or stunted growth, but also because it is a region very vulnerable to natural disasters, such as floods, cyclones, droughts ... These adversities are a plus to the already difficult social and economic situation in the country.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the serious humanitarian crisis that is currently being Sudan due to various internal political, religious, economic, environmental, racial and territorial problems. Every day, Sudanese society faces violence and armed conflict, killings and racial cleansing, in addition to the drought that has plagued the country since 2007. Since then, more than 300.000 people have died and some 2,5 million have been killed. forced to leave their homes to flee war and poverty.

Political instability

Political instability and terrorism, among others, mark the current situation in most of the West African countries, in addition to other problems such as piracy and drug trafficking. The countries covered by this region are Burkina Faso, Benin, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Since the independence of this territory, political instability has become the reality in most of these countries, especially the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia. The civil wars and the numerous coups d'état are some of the most alarming problems suffered by these countries today. All of this is of great concern to the international community, especially the United States and the EU member countries.

Although many other West African countries have managed to resolve their disagreements through political and democratic means in order to avoid armed conflicts, the truth is that there is still much to do to stop military coups, a phenomenon that is still frequent. The latest episodes took place in Guinea Bissau and Mali in 2012, which resulted in the displacement of more than 200.000 people.

This region has also established itself as a base for cocaine trafficking networks. Likewise, disguised ships transporting drugs from South America or Europe are frequent along the western coast. This is because the cartels in these countries often use different African countries as a warehouse.

Lack of access to education

According to data provided by UNICEF and UNESCO, more than half of our planet's children who do not go to school live in countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This figure increases even more if we focus on the case of girls from poor families, who live in rural areas or carry the burden of the home. Various UN agencies have shown that today more than 30 million boys and girls in this area do not have access to education.

UNICEF and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have promoted the campaign Schools for Africa, whose objective is to provide the necessary means so that education in Africa is delivered in solid and quality schools, which does not necessarily translate into the construction of school buildings. This involves teaching the class in private homes, tents, or even under a tree.

Thousands of children are forced daily to travel several kilometers to attend class in buildings whose classrooms are crowded and lack the most basic. This is due to lack of means, the deterioration of infrastructure and the need to end up using school buildings for other purposes.

Although between 2000 and 2007 there were very remarkable advances, the truth is that progress has been stagnant in recent years. In addition, the quality of teaching provided in many of the schools built in this region is questionable, mainly due to a lack of materials, inadequate facilities, poorly qualified teachers and an excess of students per classroom.


Africa is one of the richest continents in minerals, as evidenced by the presence of large deposits of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, as well as large reserves of precious stones and minerals such as gold, copper, diamonds, nickel, bauxite ... However, so many mineral resources have not prevented the many environmental problems that this continent is experiencing today.

The main environmental problems that affect most countries on the African continent are the following:

  • Lack of water sources
  • Drought
  • Soil erosion
  • Desertification
  • Deforestation
  • Extinction of flora and fauna
  • Degradation of forests, forest areas and grazing areas

The consequences of these problems range from the loss of biodiversity and soil fertility to the contamination of water resources. All this brings as a final consequence the generalized destruction of the habitat, which can generate a series of irreversible situations for the continent, such as the increase in economic and social imbalances.

Climate change is a phenomenon that must be taken into account in this regard, since it has a very serious negative impact on food production, which at the same time promotes migration to more developed countries, affects the health of the population and to the market. The salinization of rivers is something that has permanent consequences for agricultural production and the sowing of such a basic food as rice.

The most eco-hazardous countries in the long term are:

  • Kenya: three quarters of its land is semi-arid or arid.
  • Mauritania: almost 95% of its soils are hyper-arid.
  • Ethiopia: more than 2 million hectares are in a state of degradation beyond their possibilities of rehabilitation.

Health and epidemics

Health in Africa and, specifically, in countries like Mozambique is so poor that the Ministry of Health itself has stated that nearly 60% of its inhabitants have no access to either health or medicine.

At a general level, on the continent there are more than 460 million people without access to any type of sanitation services. These are the main reasons why, in addition to malnutrition, epidemics and other diseases are the main cause of death. But what diseases are the most widespread in Africa? We show them below:

  • SIDA boat: The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) registers 95% of global cases, according to data published by the WHO. In 2012 alone, 1,6 million new cases and 1,2 million deaths were recorded in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
  • Diarrhea: Currently, global mortality from diarrheal diseases stands at almost 2 million, of which 78% are in Africa and South-East Asia. Infections caused by diarrhea are mainly transmitted by water with fecal contamination.
  • Malaria: 90% of world malaria cases occur in Africa, with children being the main affected by this disease. However, since 2000, malaria death cases have decreased by 42%.
  • Respiratory infectionsAlthough there are several lower respiratory diseases diagnosed annually, the most common are bronchitis and pneumonia, which claim 1 million lives each year.
  • Meningitis: it is the XNUMXth leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa, although its impact has been reduced in the last two decades.
  • Syphilis: it is a very common STD in sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike AIDS, it has a relatively simple cure if treated early; however, if it is not diagnosed in time, it can cause death.
  • ebola: This infectious disease produces hemorrhagic fever and ends the life of the infected person in 90% of cases. Although there are currently no cases left, the lives of more than 2014 people in West Africa were killed in 900 alone.

Given the precarious health infrastructure in Africa, eradication of these diseases is still a long way off. For this reason, aid from the most developed countries is essential to save lives and increase the quality of health services on the continent.

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