SEATTLE — The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast, in English) borders the North Atlantic Ocean between Ghana and Liberia. Although the country is home to West Africa’s second-largest economy–Cote d’Ivoire has a population of 24 million and is a leading producer of the world’s cocoa, coffee and palm oil–there is still poverty in Cote d’Ivoire. As of 2015, 46.3 percent of citizens of Cote d’Ivoire lived below the poverty line, and the country had an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent.
Poverty takes its toll on the country in many ways. For instance, Cote d’Ivoire has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in West Africa. The collapse of public health facilities in the north, as a result of years of conflict, has made the situation worse. The pandemic has affected thousands of families, and as a result many children are orphaned and vulnerable. Many impoverished families cannot afford antiretroviral therapy.
Poverty rates are typically highest in the north, where smallholder farmers produce cereal, cotton and livestock. Most of the country’s poor are small-scale farmers in rural areas. The southern parts of the country are known for the production of export crops, but have seen an increase in poverty in recent years as a result of volatile world prices for cocoa and coffee.
Those with limited access to land are frequently unable to provide for themselves and are among the poorest. Young people and women tend to be the most vulnerable in Cote d’Ivoire. As in many countries, women in Cote d’Ivoire have little power over the allocation of land, and are dependent on men for access.
Despite these setbacks, there is hope that poverty and unemployment in Cote d’Ivoire will decrease, given the country’s worldwide export of crops and a relatively recent increase in tourism. Since the 1970s, the country has seen an increase in interest in its beaches, tourism villages and wildlife preserves. Further, the Poverty Rate Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP) was launched in 2009 to reduce poverty rates by creating partnerships with the private sector to stimulate growth and improve access to social services. The PRSP is working strategically to decrease inequality, promote social well-being and transform the economy in Cote d’Ivoire.
– Stefanie Podosek