60 % of world’s poorest workers live in Sub-Sahara Africa – ILO

Staff Writer

A recently published International Labour Organisation report shows that the majority of the world’s poorest workers are found in Sub-Saharan Africa indicating that the figure will rise significantly in 2020 due to rising informality and small holder agricultural productivity.

The report entitled, “World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2020” provided the latest details on glaring statistics which must force the region’s political actors to take drastic measures.

“The total number of workers living in poverty was 240 million. Significantly, 140 million out of the 234 million workers living in extreme poverty across the world are in sub-Saharan Africa giving the equivalence of 59.8 %,” the report said.

The global labour organ expects these figures to rise because poverty reduction in the sub-region is proceeding at a slower pace than elsewhere at a time when informal employment is essentially the norm, affecting 89.2 % of workers.

Employment in sub-Saharan Africa is characterized by widespread low-productivity employment in smallholder agriculture justifying why 36 % of workers in the sub-region were living in extreme poverty and an additional 25 % in moderate poverty in 2019.

Even when agricultural workers are excluded, the informality rate still stands at 77 %.

The shocking statistics come at a time when Zimbabwe’s economy has seriously informalised with an estimated 95 % of the population surviving on non- formal jobs.

According to the World Bank’s 2019 Poverty Equity Brief, extreme poverty in Zimbabwe has risen to 34 percent, with 1 million more citizens now added to the existing 4.7 million.

According to the brief, “Poverty is likely to have risen further since 2017 given the sharp rises in food prices, which rose by 319 % from June 2018 to June 2019. Together with poor rainfall in the 2018/2019 season. This increased the portion of food insecure people to 51%.”

“For millions of ordinary people, it’s increasingly difficult to build better lives through work,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “Persisting and substantial work-related inequalities and exclusion are preventing them from finding decent work and better futures. That’s an extremely serious finding that has profound and worrying implications for social cohesion.”

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