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Studies Find African Poverty Still High Despite Economic Growth

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says chronic hunger remains highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in four people is malnourished. (File photo)
Two new studies find levels of poverty and hunger remain high across Africa, despite numbers showing fast economic growth.

The research group Afrobarometer surveyed 50,000 people in 34 African countries. It says about half of those surveyed reported facing shortages of food, clean water, and medicine at least once in the past year.

About one in five said the shortages were frequent.

Separately, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says the number of people dealing with chronic hunger is dropping worldwide but remains highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in four people is malnourished.

The African Development Bank says Africa's economy grew an average of 4.8 percent per year between 2002 and 2011.

The Afrobarometer study, released Tuesday, says its results suggest the effects of that growth are not trickling down to the poor, or that the reported growth rates are incorrect.

The research group conducts periodic surveys in African countries, asking people how often they go without necessities.

Among 16 counties surveyed over a full decade, it says, "the average experience of lived poverty has hardly changed." It says poverty decreased over that period in Cape Verde, Ghana, Malawi and Zambia, but rose in Botswana, Mali, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

Based on the survey responses, the highest levels of poverty were mostly in West African countries, including Togo, Niger, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Burkina Faso.

The study noted that poverty often decreases when people have access to electrical grids, running water and formal education.