What is the State of Poverty in Nigeria?

A May 2020  report by the National Bureau of Statistics classified 40.1 percent of Nigerians as poor. This means 4 out of every 10 Nigerians live below the poverty line. By new national standards, one is said to be below the poverty line if the average amount they spend on goods and services, in a year is below 137,430 Naira ($354); 82.9 million Nigerians fall in this category. 

But yearly spending figures do not paint the full picture of poverty in Nigeria. Rather the poverty levels are more reflective of what these monies are spent on. Generally speaking, the more developed a country is, the smaller the percentage of household income it spends on food. Evidence shows that people from low-income countries spend a greater portion of their budget on necessities such as food. Nigeria spends over half (56.65%) of household income on food, the number one country in the world where citizens spend most of their income on household food consumption. Kenya comes after Nigeria, with 46.7%; Cameroon 45.6%; Kazakhstan 43.0%; and Algeria with 42.5%.

Placing these two findings side by side with other factors like an increasing population, and rising levels of unemployment explain the low-income status and the poverty level of the country. Although poverty is widespread in the country, there is a clear disparity in the levels across states, especially in terms of consumption. The map below shows us the disparity in poverty levels among Nigerian states – with Sokoto being the highest, and Lagos state the lowest. Data for Borno state was not collected due to a lack of access to respondents.

Lagos state also has the lowest number of households reported to spend half of their total income on food consumption. 

What else do we know? 

Source of Income: Most Nigerians living below the poverty line, depend on Agriculture for their source of income. 

Education and Poverty: Groups with no education or less than primary education have a higher poverty count rate with the majority of those who have never attended school saying that the cost for schooling is too expensive.

Geography and Poverty: Rural areas are more likely to have a higher count of poor people. 

Water and Sanitation: One of the major issues that have remained a public health concern in Nigeria and a pointer to acute poverty levels is the lack of access to water, sanitation, and toilet facilities. 57 million Nigerians lack access to safe water, with over 130 million are without access to adequate sanitation. While a quarter of Nigerians say that they have no toilet facility; 21.1% use pit layering with a slab, and 14.9% use Open pit.