There’s a lot that we can do to come alongside people facing humanitarian crises in underdeveloped countries. But what exactly does “underdeveloped” mean, and how does one define the most underdeveloped countries — out of all the nations facing extreme poverty and hunger?
The United Nations currently recognizes 46 countries on their list of least developed countries. The list is based on each country’s income, human assets, and economic and environmental vulnerability.
While the UN doesn’t specifically rank its list in order of most to least underdeveloped, we can establish an unofficial ranking based on the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI emphasizes the capabilities of people living in each country instead of solely evaluating those countries’ economies. From that list of 46 countries, the five with the lowest HDI score are:
- Central African Republic
- South Sudan
Read on to learn more about these five most underdeveloped countries in the world and what you can do to make a difference in each.
Niger is located in West Africa, just on the edge of the Sahara desert. Often surrounded by militant groups and violent conflicts, the country sees a steady stream of refugees and other migrants either traveling through or seeking asylum within its communities.
These conflicts, combined with natural disasters, food shortages, and epidemics (not to mention the Covid-19 pandemic), have exacerbated already poor living conditions, leaving millions malnourished and forcing hundreds of schools to close. As a result, Niger ranks first on the list of most underdeveloped countries.
Central African Republic
As its name implies, the Central African Republic is located in the middle of Africa. While it’s home to a myriad of natural resources, political unrest and violence have kept it among the most underdeveloped countries in the world.
The Central African Republic faces humanitarian crises due to extreme poverty and the displacement of roughly 1 million people from ongoing conflicts. Malnutrition and gender-based violence are widespread, and the average life expectancy is just 53 years.
You can help alleviate suffering in Central African Republic by supporting the work of localized humanitarian groups in this region. These groups strive to provide aid to residents while bringing peaceful resolutions to internal conflicts. To get involved, look into the International Rescue Committee.
Chad is located in central Africa. Because of its landlocked location, it suffers from long-term food insecurity and the political unrest of surrounding regions. Combined, these factors result in hundreds of thousands of displaced citizens and refugees from surrounding countries.
In addition to food insecurity and malnutrition, the people of Chad lack access to clean drinking water, healthcare, and sufficient sanitation. Health crises and poverty have also been exacerbated by violent attacks from militant groups.
Burundi is located in East Africa, in what is known as the Great Lakes region. As a result of political upheaval surrounding elections in 2015, many Burundian citizens fled the country and took refuge in neighboring countries. While many of these refugees have now returned to their home country, they have not all been able to return to their original communities or property.
All those displaced people suffer a lack of food, water, sanitation, education, gender equality, and much more. In 2021, Business Insider Africa identified Burundi as not only one of the most underdeveloped countries, but also the poorest country in the world.
To get involved, check out the work that World Vision has been doing alongside the people of Burundi for over 50 years, which currently focuses on the long-term development of local communities.
Located in East Africa, South Sudan is a relatively new nation that has been overrun with violent conflict for much of its lifetime. Because of these conflicts, the population faces severe hunger and malnourishment with millions still displaced both internally and as refugees in surrounding countries.
Additionally, less than half of South Sudan’s population has access to clean drinking water, and only 10% of its population has sanitation access. This puts the people of South Sudan at great risk of disease.
The Most Underdeveloped Countries Need Humanitarian Aid
While the weight of poverty in our world may seem overwhelming, there’s always something we can do to help improve living conditions in even the most underdeveloped countries in the world. Bringing more widespread attention to humanitarian crises in these countries is a great way to start, as is directly supporting organizations who are already on the ground providing assistance.
Visit Anchored Purpose Box to learn more about underdeveloped countries and what you can do to get involved.