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May 2020

Nigeria’s Poverty Headcount at 40.1%, with higher Incidence in Rural Settlements

According to the 2018-19 Nigeria Living Standards Survey (NLSS) conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the World Bank, absolute poverty headcount ratio stood at 40.1% in 2019. This implies that the incidence of poverty is such that 4 out of 10 individuals are said to be poor. The current poverty rate ultimately translates to 83 million individuals that live below the poverty line, thus, are considered poor. This segment of the country’s total population failed to meet the minimum consumption expenditure threshold (or national poverty line) estimated at N137,430 ($449.3) per annum or N376.52 ($1.23) per day. A further breakdown of the poverty statistics showed that poverty is prevalent in rural settlements (52.1%) than in urban centres (18%).


Poverty is high among the Illiterate segment of Nigeria’s Population

According to the Report, Nigerians with no formal education are faced with the highest prevalence of poverty at a national average of 50.4%. Majority of the poor in this category dwell in rural areas. It was however observed that irrespective of settlements, the incidence of poverty reduces with the possession of higher educational qualification. For instance, the segment of Nigeria’s population that held post-secondary qualification experienced the lowest incidence of poverty relative to others (See Table 1). This reflects the importance of human capital development in reducing the poverty prevalence in Nigeria.   


Rural dwellers who generate income from Agriculture only are more vulnerable to Poverty

A further breakdown of the Poverty Statistics showed that many Nigerians who generate income from agricultural activities only and are domiciled in the rural areas were more prone to a higher incidence of poverty.   Furthermore, paid employee across the country - irrespective of settlements (urban & rural) - had a moderate incidence of poverty relative to other categories of Nigerians engaged in other income-generating activities (see Table 2). This segment of Nigeria’s population recorded the lowest poverty headcount ratio with a national average of 15.7%, disaggregated into 11.7% and 24.9% for urban and rural settlements respectively.


Poverty Headcount Ratio fundamentally determined by Household Size

From the Report, the incidence of poverty was higher for large household size nationally and across settlements (see Figure 1). It is worthy of note that the national poverty headcount of households with 20 members and above stood at 77.7%, which is more than 7 folds relative to the average national poverty rate among households with 1-4 members (10.3%) (see Figure 1).


Lagos has the lowest poverty rate, Sokoto has the highest

The state-by-state breakdown of the Poverty Statistics showed that 9 states from Northern Nigeria ranked among the top ten states with a high incidence of poverty in 2019. Notably, both Sokoto and Taraba States had the highest poverty headcount ratio at 87.8%. Furthermore, 15 of the 19 states surveyed in Northern Nigeria were part of the 17 states that recorded poverty above the national average.


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