October 15, 2014. Africa Can End Poverty, a blog published by the World Bank, features this week a post on land fertility and rural poverty in Africa written by ASE founder and president Prof. Leonard Wantchekon. 

The article, Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty: One Infrastructure Investment at a Time, highlights some of the key findings of a forthcoming paper entitled "The Curse of Good Soil? Land Fertility, Roads and Rural Poverty in Africa":

  • There exists a positive correlation between soil quality and poverty in Africa, meaning that regions where land is most fertile are on average more likely to be impoverished than regions where soil is poorer.  
  • Transportation costs or isolation are the main drivers of rural poverty.
  • There exists a mismatch between soil quality and infrastructure. Roads tend to be bad in places with good soil, such as in hills and valleys, and good where the soil is of worse quality, such as in flat terrain close the coast.  
  • When infrastructure is poorly maintained or non-existent, households are poorer in areas where the soil quite fertile than in areas where the land is barren.

Read the complete post here

A rural village in Benin (© Arne Hoel / World Bank)