Guinea-Bissau - Poverty and wealth

Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world, and its population suffers. According to 1991 estimates, 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The GDP per capita was estimated to be US$850 at purchasing power parity in 2000. Although the World Factbook estimated in 1991 that the poorest 10 percent of the population controlled 0.5 percent of the GDP and the richest 10 percent controlled 42.4 percent

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Guinea-Bissau 226 168 206 223 173
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Nigeria 301 314 230 258 256
Guinea N/A N/A N/A 532 594
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Guinea-Bissau
Lowest 10% 0.5
Lowest 20% 2.1
Second 20% 6.5
Third 20% 12.0
Fourth 20% 20.6
Highest 20% 58.9
Highest 10% 42.4
Survey year: 1991
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

of the wealth, there are few reliable figures for the distribution of wealth.

Economic development has been hampered by both low quality and poor coverage of education. Although education is compulsory between the ages of 7 and 13, barely half of the children in that age group attend school regularly. Primary enrollment stood at 60 percent, and secondary enrollments stood at 6 percent in 1997. Most students also supplement family income and frequently miss school. Education has also been hit by strikes over reforms and was badly disrupted by the war. According to 1997 estimates, male literacy was estimated to be 67 percent and female literacy 41 percent.

Health in Guinea-Bissau is in a state of crisis. About 90 percent of the needed funding comes from abroad, though this money is often diverted through corruption and does not reach its intended recipients. There are 1,300 hospital beds in Guinea-Bissau, and Bissau Hospital was badly affected during the war. The spread of disease and endemic malnutrition with resultant high death rates have made the level of health care in Guinea-Bissau the lowest in West Africa. Infant mortality stood at 138 per 1,000 before the war, but this figure has dropped to an estimated 112 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000. Only a quarter of the population has access to clean water, sanitation, and health care, leading to frequent outbreaks of cholera and meningitis. HIV is also spreading, with an estimated 14,000 adults having been infected by the end of 1999.

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