IVORY COAST — A French colony until its independence in 1960, the Ivory Coast has wrestled with civil unrest and increasing poverty rates for years. In 2015, poverty in the Ivory Coast was as high as 46.3 percent.
Like many African countries, in-country ethnic conflicts hurt the Ivory Coast’s development during its independence. After a series of corrupt elections in the 1990s, lines had to be officially drawn between two ethnic groups: the “real citizens” in the south and the “foreigners” who populated the north.
This division led to the five-year conflict of 2002 to 2007 and the faulty elections of 2010 and 2011. Needless to say, there’s been a mass need for change on the western African coast.
Efforts to rebuild the troubled nation began with Prime Minister Ouattara. This leader “focused on rebuilding the economy and restoring domestic security” through justice reforms. The Justice Ministry’s Special Investigative Unit’s modifications helped resolve the political disasters of 2010 and 2011. Now, the Ivory Coast hopes to follow out-of-office Ouattara’s lead to bolster domestic security through a stronger society.
With a Global Peace Index rating of 2.4 (1 being total peace, 5 being intense conflict) and a Corruption Perception Rating of 115 out of 175, poverty in the Ivory Coast is a major public priority. The low Human Development Index rating of 0.43 demonstrates the nation’s need for improved health, education and income standards.
Thankfully, the government hopes political improvements will boost economic and societal well-being. In addition, substantial poverty relief is given to the Ivory Coast’s rural areas. The United Nations Capital Development Fund UNCDF estimates that “62.4 percent of the rural population living under the poverty line” is located within the dryer, subsistence farming based regions. By comparison, only 29.5 percent of the severely impoverished live in urban areas.
As opposed to poverty concentration, neither group of the Ivory Coast is exempt from HIV/AIDS. With one of the worst infection rates in West Africa, the Ivory Coast’s resources and even an entire governmental ministry have gone to public health needs rather than combatting poverty in the Ivory Coast. This sector hopes to repair destroyed public health infrastructure so more of the population can have access to HIV/AIDS treatment.
The Ivory Coast receives assistance from organizations all over the world. For instance, the UNCDF is a leader in the fight against the Ivory Coast’s high poverty rates. The organization mobilized the Special Unit for Microfinance to “build the capacity of local organizations to initiate or expand existing microfinance activities.”
The U.N. hopes that both male and female financial inclusion will stimulate a badly needed economic recovery. As a result, this economic change would allow for higher income and employment for the most poverty-stricken communities.
Additionally, the Government of Luxembourg’s new initiative connects the struggling West African nation with some of its neighbors. This alliance would help the impoverished of the Ivory Coast. The Local Cross-Border Initiative will “support cross-border strategies and the piloting of cross-border local development processes to improve economic stability and human security in the regions.”
Since its formation in 2012, the program has helped form economic cohesion among its members. Alliances such as the Economic Community of Western African States and the African Economic and Monetary Union are necessary steps towards improving poverty rates within the Ivory Coast once and for all.
– Jacob Hess