The cycle of poverty

The factors influencing development are often linked and countries can find themselves in a cycle of poverty. For example, if a country is in a lot of debt, it cannot afford good schools. If people are poorly educated they are less likely to understand the causes of desertification. Desertification leads to poor crop growth and low incomes. This leads back to the country accumulating debt and the cycle continues.

The cycle of poverty: Economic decline, low personal income, less access to food and safe water, hunger and poor sanitation, disease malnutrition and death, depleted workforce.

A low-income country: Kenya

Kenya has little industry or energy reserves and has to import most of its manufactured goods, machinery, cars and oil. Parts of northern Kenya are desert but many areas in the south are favourable for agriculture. Subsistence farmers can grow sufficient food for their families and crops such as tea, coffee and flowers can be grown for export.

  • In 2013 Kenya exported $5 billion and imported $15 billion worth of goods.
  • Top exports were tea, refined oil, cut flowers and coffee.
  • Top imports were oil, cars, iron and steel, medicines and wheat.
  • Top export destinations were Zambia, Uganda, the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • Top import origins were India, Japan, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

A high-income country: Japan

Japan is a major economic power in the world. Its companies have successfully used the countries of Southeast Asia as pools of low-cost labour. Japan imports most of its food, the raw materials needed for industry and its energy supplies. In order to pay for these imports, Japan exports a variety of manufactured goods.

  • In 2013 Japanese exports totalled over $740 billion and imports were $770 billion.*
  • Top exports were cars, vehicle parts, integrated circuits and refined oil.
  • Top imports were crude oil, natural gas, coal and computers.
  • Top export destinations were the United States, China, South Korea and Hong Kong.
  • Top import origins were China, the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(*In 2013, Japan had a trade deficit of approximately $28 billion US$.)