A 1999 Update of the Cameroon poverty profile

Type Report
Title A 1999 Update of the Cameroon poverty profile
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2000
URL http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
The national context in Cameroon has changed in some important ways since the last Poverty
Profile and Poverty Assessment were prepared in 1994. The effects of the economic crisis that
struck the country between 1986 and 1995 culminated in the devaluation of the CFA franc in
1994, and this has brought about price changes and modified urban-rural terms of trade. About
one year after the devaluation, growth reappeared, bringing some gains for those socioeconomic
groups involved in export trade. The living standards of various social groups were also
influenced by ongoing privatizations of public enterprises and improvements in administrative
efficiency, as well as by social programs to address employment, health care, and education
needs. Further studies since 1994, including household surveys, have generated new information
on the poor, poverty, and inequality, and this has permitted a well-justified update of the 1994
Poverty Profile.
Stabilization and structural adjustment programs have perceptibly improved GDP growth and
strengthen macroeconomic balances in recent years. Although these improvements remain
tentative, the Government of Cameroon now has greater room for focusing on the social side of
its policy agenda, especially on policies to reduce poverty. Correspondingly, in December
1998, the Government issued an Official Declaration of Strategy to Fight Poverty, which set
improvement of the standard of living and reduction of poverty as top priorities.
Income poverty remains widely spread throughout the country as a result of the long economic
crisis, with the burden unequally distributed among the various socioeconomic groups and
regions. The tentative improvement in macroeconomic conditions since the devaluation have
brought some improvements but have not yet been sustained enough to bring major or
generalized improvements. Changes in other aspects of the standard of living may have partly
compensated for past rises in income poverty. Life expectancy has increased, while infant
mortality and food security remained stable. However, not all socioeconomic indicators have
improved, including those for nutrition, maternal mortality, gross school enrollment, and HIV
prevalence. In a context in which public expenditures were squeezed for many years during the
economic crisis, these outcomes may reflect at least partly the lagged effects of eroding public
infrastructure and social services.

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