Cape Verde - Poverty and wealth

Only a small proportion of the population of Cape Verde (7 percent) are below the dollar-a-day poverty line (to be below this line means not having enough income to obtain the barest minimum of food, clothing, and shelter). Those in poverty include families that rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, whose farms may suffer from poor soil and inadequate rainfall, and urban dwellers without formal sector jobs and no family support, who exist by casual hawking , portering, and scavenging. Although average incomes are comparable to the average elsewhere in Africa, many Cape Verdeans are still very poor.

According to the United Nations Development Program 's (UNDP) Human Development Index (which combines measures of income, health, and education), Cape Verde climbed from 117th in 1995 to 106th in 1999 out of 174 total countries. In sub-Saharan Africa it now ranks third out of 43 countries, placing Cape Verde firmly in the medium development bracket, reflecting not only its economic development, but also its progress in health and education since independence.

Life expectancy was estimated at 69 years in 2001 (up from 52 years in 1960), which is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, and this is partly due to a well-developed health care system. Infant mortality stood at 53 per 1,000 live births in 2001 (better than the 65 per 1,000 average for developing countries). There is 1 doctor for every 4,270 people (according to 1992 estimates). There are plans for a new hospital to be built in the capital.

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Cape Verde N/A N/A 1,039 1,120 1,354
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Nigeria 301 314 230 258 256
Guinea-Bissau 226 168 206 223 173
SOURCE : United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

Clean water and sanitation have been a problem for Cape Verde, leading to intermittent outbreaks of cholera. However, the government has implemented a scheme to bring clean water to all its citizens by 2005. The 1999 budget allocated $15.5 million to health care.

Literacy stood at 71 percent in 1997 (compared to 36 percent in 1970). There is universal primary school enrollment, secondary school enrollment is 27 percent, and 3 percent go on to higher education. Improving education at all levels in Cape Verde is a key priority for the UNDP. Education accounted for 19 percent of government expenditure in 1999.

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