Question: how many beggars did I see while in Tanzania (Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar) for 10 days?
Anyone who's walked or driven anywhere in Ethiopia has heard the constant "moneymoneymoney!" or "onebirr" chants. I've also been reading a book about a shoestring journey from Cape Town to Cairo (Swahili for the Broken Hearted which I recommend for a fun and easy read). In the chapter on Ethiopia, the author notes the same preponderance of beggars as compared to other African countries. Personally I've only seen this level of begging in India.
What could cause these kinds of differences? Could it be simple poverty? Other Sub-saharan African Countries are equally poor yet have few beggars. And in Ethiopia it cuts across socioeconomic lines. While on a bike ride I passed a chubby 12-year old dressed in freshly-pressed gray wool slacks, starched powder-blue oxford cloth shirt, navy blue blazer with gleaming buttons, and a maroon tie. He looked like he just walked out of a high-priced British prep school. The moment he saw me he thrust out his hand and started the "gimme one birr" chant.
I read once that Ethiopia has a heritage of "alms giving" as informal charity. Could this account for all the people begging?