This is a very complex question, and I won’t even pretend that I’m qualified to answer comprehensively, but in simplified and broadly accurate terms… sub Saharan Africa is a mess.
Africa has a lot of separate ethnic groups that have been forced to co-exists. It’s quite unlike most of Asia where there have always been empires and nations that have forced homogeneity on different populations over recent millennia. It’s also quite unlike the Americas where the natives peoples were all but exterminated and culturally eliminated. Africa has a lot of largely intact cultural groups that are numerous enough to remain powerful and cohesive. They have also been foisted upon one another because of arbitrary colonial borders. As a result sub-Saharan Africa has been the scene of almost endless wars, both civil and ‘international. There’s nothing to create poverty and death quote like war. When you add to the wars the results of ethnic ‘discrimination’ such as we’ve seen in Zimbabwe in the last few weeks it’s hardly surprising that there are problems with poverty.
That’s compounded because few sub-Saharan states ever managed to achieve any sort of national bureaucracy before being colonised, indeed most had no written language and that lone makes effective bureaucracy impossible. Most Asian states already had a solid (if feudal) government system in place when they were conquered. The colonists moved in an imposed there own administration to some degree, but the culture and the people were already entirely familiar with effective bureaucracy. In contrast most if not all sub-Saharan states were little more than tribal states. Even the ‘empires’ were largely just one tribe forcing tribute from surrounding tribes. There were no formalised legal systems, no effective methods of taxation and so forth. It was essentially a free for all with the strong extracting whatever they could from the weak with little thought for long term social cohesion.
When the region was colonised the colonists tended to insert their own bureaucrats at the upper levels. The ‘natives’ were relegated to minor bureaucratic positions. The people were never taught how to actually run a country or even how a country should be run. The local rulers were simply slotted into the system below the “King over the sea”, there was no attempt at working towards self-government. When independence was granted it was generally done fast with little more then the colonial power designating someone as ‘president’ and walking out. Very few people had any idea how to go about running a nation and the common people certainly had no idea of how a nation should be run or how to ‘control’ their leaders.
Not surprisingly massive corruption and inefficiency inevitably resulted and usually military despots rapidly rose to power. That wasn’t helped by the fact that independence inevitably coincided with the Cold War. Both sides were more than willing to support anyone who wanted to become a military despot provided that he stated that he supported their position. Under the circumstances the chances of getting anything but a military dictatorship was impossible. Unfortunately the military dictatorships they got were incompetent and ineffective simply because there was no bureaucracy to enable them to produce a sustainable system, control corruption and embezzlement, control the economy or maintain border security and so forth. And without those basic necessities the was effectively no state, just a bunch of people with a common ruler forced upon them.
I guess the main thing to remember is that the world currently produces far more food than we can possible consume. We dump it in the ocean and burn it and pay people not to produce it just so we don’t have massive piles of rotten food lying around. We also have the ability and the will to transport food and medical aid anywhere it’s needed* provided the transports don’t get shot at or stolen*. What that means is that almost nobody in the world is dying as a result of poverty except where wars and ethnic strife are making it impossible for foreign aid to reach them. Or more simply put, the only reason people die of poverty is because other people want them to. And Africa is the main place where that is occurring for the reasons given above.
Parts of SE Asia may have problems with malnutrition and disease but they are open to international aid organisations and as a result deaths are limited. Similarly India may have problems associated with poverty in some regions but there is nothing preventing both internal and international aid agencies from getting in there and saving lives. That’s in stark contrast from sub-Saharan Africa where governments are deliberately preventing aid reaching people, or where governments are stealing aid as fast as it can arrive, or where the local rebels will shoot aid workers in site. In the last fortnight for example the dictator in Zimbawe has destroyed the homes of over a quarter of a million of his opponents in the middle of winter and driven them out into the countryside at gunpoint. He is hardly likely to allow the Red Cross to build new houses for them. It’s impossible to deal with poverty under those circumstances, and those circumstances are really only widespread in Africa/. They may occur in isolated patches of other parts of the world but it’s rare. In general even military dictators elsewhere welcome international aid agencies looking after their people. And while they may steal aid they rarely steal all of it.
I guess it all comes down to stable government. Basically Africa just hasn’t got it and isn’t likely to get it in the short term. People are dying due to pverty in Africa because someone in power wants them to die, not because the world lacks the resoucres to prevent their deaths.