Fighting Inequalities

Inequalities between countries, like those between populations, significantly hinder development. Since many different forms of inequality exist, a wide range of actions are required to effectively combat them.
Health, education, employment, income, gender... AFD is working on every issue and at every level to promote more just and fair development. It is also leading research to study the mechanisms that create inequalities and solutions for reducing them.
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Drinking water, DRC © Joseph Moura
La hausse du niveau des mers menace des millions d'habitants

Insuring a universal access to basic services

école primaire Angira, Kenya, éducation

Insuring a universal access to basic services

Disparities in the access to basic services, like healthcare and education, lead to other forms of inequality, such as in income or access to employment. AFD therefore works to broaden access to these services, particularly by developing and improving public services.

We assist countries in improving their school systems. We work on school management and teacher training by building the capacities of national and local education stakeholders. In Senegal, for example, we are supporting public investment to improve the facilities and learning conditions in Casamance. We are fight against the social, territorial and gender discrimination that prevents populations from accessing education in their countries. In Niger, where 3% of girls finish primary school, as opposed to 34% of boys, we are contributing to the Common Sectoral Fund for Education (FCSE).

To reduce geographical and social inequalities, we also support decentralization projects aimed at helping isolated areas benefit from essential services. This is the case for the programme supporting village communities in Guinea, which promotes the economic development of rural territories. In Indonesia, we work to reduce inequalities by developing port, rail and road infrastructures.

Promoting economic development with greater equality

Man working for the company Label O Bois, Madagascar

Promoting economic development with greater equality

Although inequalities between countries have decreased in recent years, they remain significant: according to the 2018 report by Oxfam, the GDP per capita of OECD countries is 52 times higher than that of low-income countries and 1% of the population owns 50% of the world’s wealth. Within countries, inequalities have increased over the past 20 years: the gap between the wealthiest and poorest has never been so pronounced.

Widening inequalities are a political and social issue that also hinder countries’ economic development. OECD countries lost nearly 5% of their growth rate due to inequalities between 1985 and 2005. If growth is not shared and does not benefit the entire population, it is powerless in reducing poverty.

At the same time, major inequalities exist across generations. In Africa, nearly 60% of the unemployed are young people between the ages of 15 and 24. AFD is working to facilitate their professional integration to promote economic growth that benefits the entire population and reduces income disparities. For example, in the Diffa region of Niger, we are funding a project aimed at improving young people’s life prospects by establishing training programmes. In the Dominican Republic, we are supporting the Fondesa microfinance institution  that offers loans adapted to the needs of young people, to improve their access to education.

We are also committed to fighting gender inequalities experienced by women around the world. To this end, we are promoting women’s access to employment in Turkey and India.

Promoting research and analysis on inequalities

A Research Facility to Better Understand Inequalities, the EU-AFD Research Facility on Inequalities

Promoting research and analysis on inequalities

Inequalities are very diverse and affect populations at every level. It is therefore essential for us to develop a common, comprehensive and cross-sectional response.

AFD is developing research projects to understand inequalities better and fight them more effectively. We are coordinating the implementation of a Research Facility on Inequalities funded by the European Commission. As part of our projects in the field, we are conducting and financing research into inequality in specific contexts: for example, inequalities and social cohesion in South Africa.

In addition to studies and research publications on specific aspects relating to inequalities, we organize high-level conferences and hear from experts to foster international dialogue on this fundamental issue. It is only in reducing inequalities at all levels that we will be able to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Find out more

billion euros in favour of the least developed countries in 2016
million euros invested by AFD to finance research projects on inequalities as part of the EU Facility

Basic services, jobs, income, gender... AFD is working to reduce inequalities in these areas on every level. Within countries, we are working to help the poorest and most vulnerable populations, including in middle-income countries, where significant pockets of poverty still exist.

To reduce inequalities between countries, we are specifically supporting less developed countries (LDC). In 2016, AFD invested €1.6 billion in LDCs. In 2017, we established a research team to study the nature, causes, differences (gender, territorial, income inequalities, etc.) and consequences of these inequalities in each context to lay the foundations for future strategy to specifically target this issue.


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