Why world's poorest are getting poorer

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The Independent Online
More than 20 of the world's poorest countries are in "economic and social regress", according to a United Nations report on least-developed nations published yesterday.

The average income per capita of these 22 has declined by at least 10 per cent since 1980 and in half of them most people now eat fewer calories per day than they did 10 years ago.

In eight of the regressing nations infant mortality rates increased sharply between 1985 and 1995. The report blames their decline on civil war and chaotic or non-existent governments. The list includes the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Liberia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Haiti and Mynamar (Burma). But there are hopeful signs from the 48 nations classed as least developed, which are home to one- tenth of the Earth's population.

In the face of declining overseas aid from rich countries, huge foreign debts and next to no private sector investment, several have enjoyed real gains in prosperity during the 1990s. The success stories include Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.