The West Africa Inequality Crisis - CRII Report

The West Africa Inequality Crisis - CRII Report

Paper publication date: 
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Inequality and poverty are not preordained: they are the products of political choices and public policy. Tackling inequality is critical to the fight against extreme poverty. Indeed, unless countries significantly close the gap between the richest and the rest, ending extreme poverty will remain just a dream. Governments are not the only ones who need to work to reduce inequality, but without them success will be impossible.
This briefing paper examines in detail how committed West African governments are to reducing inequality. To do this, it first provides an overview of the inequality crisis that characterizes much of the region, and explains why inequality matters not just to the poor but to the whole of society.
The Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index, devised by Development Finance International (DFI) and Oxfam, has analysed data from 157 countries around the world, and ranked them according to three major policy areas that are recognized as being key to tackling inequality. These include progressive spending on assets such as schools, hospitals and social protection, taxing the better-off more than the poorest people, and paying workers a living wage.

For this review, CRI data have been used to assess the performance of all 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), along with Mauritania. Government action in these areas has been rated to give countries a combined score and a CRI Index ranking in comparison with the other 15 countries in this region and with other African countries. The review also assesses policies relating to land and agricultural investment in West Africa.