The Top 20 Poorest States in Nigeria 2024: Poverty Levels, Causes and Potential Solutions
The Top 20 Poorest States in Nigeria 2024: Poverty Levels, Causes and Potential Solutions

The Top 20 Poorest States in Nigeria 2024: Poverty Levels, Causes and Potential Solutions

Nigeria is considered the largest economy in Africa; however, it still faces significant challenges with poverty. A large percentage of Nigerians live below the poverty line despite the country’s abundant human and natural resources. While some states have succeeded in reducing poverty and accelerating economic growth, many others continue to struggle with high poverty levels.

This article aims to identify the top 20 poorest states in Nigeria for the year 2024 based on the latest available data on key poverty indicators. It analyzes the main causes of poverty prevalence in these states and also discusses some potential solutions that could help reduce poverty if properly implemented. The rankings are based on a composite analysis of multiple factors like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), literacy rates, unemployment levels, access to basic amenities, and security issues rather than just relying on a single metric like poverty headcount ratios.


Methodology for Ranking the Top 20 Poorest States

To determine the rankings, I gathered data on key socioeconomic indicators from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and validated it with reports from independent research organizations. The indicators considered include:

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GDP Per Capita

GDP per capita is used to measure the average income or economic output of each individual in a state. States with lower GDP per capita are likely to have higher poverty levels.

Literacy Rates

Higher literacy rates correlate with higher employability and income-generating opportunities which helps reduce poverty. States with lower literacy rates, especially for women, tend to have more people living in poverty.

Unemployment Rates

Higher unemployment rates mean more people do not have a steady income source which pushes them below the poverty line. States with double-digit unemployment were considered more impoverished.

Access to Basic Amenities

The availability of clean water, electricity, health centers, and good road networks is important for economic activities and income generation. States lacking such amenities experience higher poverty.

Security Challenges

Ongoing security issues like insurgencies, communal conflicts, kidnappings, and herder-farmer clashes severely impact economic activities and disrupt livelihoods, worsening poverty.

After collecting data on these indicators, I assigned weights to calculate a composite score for each state. The states with the lowest scores are ranked highest on the poverty scale. While not perfect, this multidimensional approach provides a more rigorous basis for comparison than single metrics.


Top 20 Poorest States in Nigeria 2024

Based on the methodology, here are the top 20 poorest states in Nigeria for the year 2024:

1.  Yobe State

Yobe in the northeast has consistently ranked as the poorest state for many years due to the devastating effects of the Boko Haram insurgency. With the lowest GDP, poor infrastructure, and insecurity crippling its economy, Yobe remains at the top.

2.  Sokoto State

The northwest state of Sokoto has high poverty levels despite its considerable land area and population size. Subsistence farming, low skills, limited private sector, and lack of economic diversification have kept it as one of the poorest.

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3.  Jigawa State

Located in the northwest like Sokoto, Jigawa has a large population but minimal development, leaving many in poverty. Agriculture is the main activity but lack of modern techniques and market access hampers income generation.

4.  Kebbi State

Another impoverished state from the northwest, Kebbi has poor education, especially for females, and relies on rain-fed subsistence agriculture with minimal processing, value addition, or industrialization.

5.  Zamfara State

Insecurity caused by banditry and communal tensions in parts of Zamfara has aggravated poverty levels in this formerly rich northwest state by disrupting livelihoods and deterring investments.

6.  Gombe State

Situated in the northeast, the depreciating effects of climate change like desertification have impaired agriculture and pushed a majority of Gombe below the poverty line besides its minimal economic development.

7.  Taraba State

Mostly rural with little agriculture mechanization or economic diversification beyond subsistence farming, Taraba in the northeast suffers from high unemployment and one of the lowest GDPs in Nigeria.

8.  Katsina State

As a major agricultural state in the impoverished northwest region, insecurity like banditry in Katsina has impeded farming, worsened unemployment, and deepened poverty levels across the state.

9.  Niger State

Though having rich deposits of mineral resources, little value-addition, over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture, and low human capital formation has made the north-central Niger State one of the poorest.

10. Benue State

Insecurity brought by communal conflicts between herders and farmers has ranked Benue among the poorest despite being the “food basket” of Nigeria due to disrupted agricultural production across much of the state.\

11. Kwara State

Once prosperous, policy inconsistencies and a lack of private sector growth in recent times have pushed the western state of Kwara down the poverty ladder due to unemployment and declining investments.

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12. Ekiti State

Located in the southwest, Ekiti relies on rain-fed subsistence farming which contributes minimally to GDP amid low private capital inflows and underdeveloped industries, leaving poverty entrenched.

13. Plateau State

Despite solid mineral deposits, incessant herder-farmer clashes on the Plateau have led to lost lives and means of livelihood, escalating poverty levels across parts of this north-central state.

14. Adamawa State

Insecurity brought by the Boko Haram insurgency has left many homeless and livelihoods destroyed in parts of Adamawa state in the northeast, worsening its already high unemployment and poverty prevalence.

15. Nasarawa State

Situated in the north-central region, the lack of industrial diversification beyond agriculture and minimal skill development in Nasarawa has contributed to its increasing poverty prevalence in recent times.

16. Bauchi State

Located in the northeast which accounts for the majority of poorest states, climate uncertainty and overdependence on rain-fed farming without value addition keep pushing many below the poverty line in Bauchi.

17. Osun State

Once a more prosperous Yoruba state in the southwest, a high debt profile, rising unemployment, and lack of private sector growth have exacerbated poverty prevalence in Osun above the regional average.

18. Ogun State

proximity to Lagos hasn’t boosted its economy beyond reliance on just primary commodities, thereby limiting job creation and worsening its relative poverty position in the southwest.

19. Ondo State

In the oil-rich Niger Delta region, socio-political issues hampering robust oil exploitation combined with lack of economic diversification have maintained a high poverty prevalence in Ondo.

20. Abia State

Despite comprising the commercial city of Aba, low skills development, an unreliable power supply damaging industries, and limited private capital in Abia has entrenched its poverty levels in the southeast.


Key Causes of Poverty in Nigeria

There are several common factors contributing to the high levels of poverty prevalent in the top 20 poorest states:

Over-Reliance on Rain-Fed Agriculture:

Most states engage in subsistence farming without irrigation or value addition, leaving them highly vulnerable to climate risks and providing minimal steady income.

Inadequate Skill Development and Education:

Illiteracy and low human capital weaken opportunities for better jobs, start-ups, and access to information on advanced farming practices.

Limited Economic Diversification:

An over-dependence on just one or two marginal economic activities like mining or rainfed agriculture makes these states highly susceptible to external shocks.

Poor Infrastructure and Access to Amenities:

Lack of good roads, electricity, water, and market infrastructure.


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