LOMÉ, Togo — The small West African country of Togo has seen a decreasing poverty rate. Fifty-five percent of people lived under the national poverty level in 2015; in 2006 — less than a decade earlier — the poverty rate in Togo was about 62 percent. The government of Togo is partly responsible for this decrease. Here are some of its recent efforts to reduce the poverty rate in Togo:
1. Togo believes a key to lowering widespread poverty is improving agricultural productivity.
About 65 percent of the labor force depends on agriculture; so, increasing farm efficiency directly impacts millions of Togolese.
Togo’s National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Programme started a project in 2011 to increase the productivity of hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers who grow cassava, maize or rice. The Support to Agricultural Development Project helps 220,000 farmers in isolated areas and 160,000 farmers who have the ability to better commercialize production.
The farmers receive training in irrigating crops, managing soil fertility and breeding improved seeds. The project also helps farmers build roads and storage facilities, as well as market their products.
The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program supports the above-mentioned project, in addition to one that teaches farmers crop diversification and freshwater fish farming. Ten countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contribute funding for the multilateral pledge.
2. A second major development project helping to reduce the poverty rate in Togo provides impoverished areas with infrastructure that helps the Togolese have healthier, more successful lives.
The World Bank partially funded this multi-million dollar project and according to the World Bank, project workers built 325 primary school classrooms, 63 potable water systems and 19 health centers. In addition, 159 complementary structures were built that includes latrines, small roads and incinerators.
The community additions will enable children to receive education necessary for future economic prosperity and help ensure people’s lives are free from unsatisfactory sanitation facilities and disease.
Another positive impact came from public works projects that generated temporary income opportunities — the projects employed more than 12,000 individuals in the targeted communities.
3. A third area where Togo works to reduce the poverty rate is social protection.
Togo secured funding from the World Bank for projects that improve the financial resources of poverty-stricken Togolese. A current pilot program in two Togo regions gives 5,000 West African CFA francs to 14,000 people from low-income households.
The monthly allowance, which equals around $9, helps families support young children suffering from severe malnutrition. Nine dollars might not seem like a lot, but the average yearly household salary in Togo is around $1,000. This monetary gift supplements other income sources and can assist people as they try to break the shackles of poverty.
The cash transfer program is just one of several projects from Togo’s Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Employment Promotion. Other programs include working toward universal health care, reducing youth unemployment, creating a retirement pension and financing school meals in rural areas. Togo also made access to services easier for poor people by removing school fees and fees for cesarean sections.
The Togolese government is trying to improve the lives of its people in a multitude of ways. Farm improvements, public infrastructure projects and social safety nets are just a few efforts by the government and global partners to reduce the poverty rate in Togo.
– Kristen Reesor