Amongst the number of complex challenges facing Iraq today, poverty is at the forefront. Despite this Middle Eastern country’s wealth in oil production and exportation, this affluence has not translated to many Iraqi citizens. Here are some facts about poverty in Iraq that show where change is needed.
Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Iraq
- With widespread insecurity since 2014, Iraq is in a state of humanitarian crisis with 10 million people in need and more than 3 million internally displaced persons.
- According to the World Bank, “the standard of living has deteriorated and a noticeable share of the population has fallen into poverty or is extremely vulnerable to falling into poverty.” In 2014, poverty reached 22.5 percent nationwide.
- The ISIS-affected government has created social, economic and security disruptions, all of which deeply impact poverty in Iraq. This violence has increased civilian mortality and left parts of the country outside of government control, incidents that then have lead to massive internal displacement.
- Ninety-five percent of Iraq’s exports are from oil. Despite this wealth, Iraq’s weak government and chronic political unrest have caused the country’s poverty rate to drop to 18.9 percent.
- Population contributes to the amount of those living below the poverty line. Iraq’s population tripled between 1970 and 2007 and today it stands at approximately 34 million; by 2030, it is expected to grow to almost 50 million.
- Oil revenues have usurped investments in education, health systems and critical infrastructure. This shift has caused a lack of diversification within the economy by enabling the private sector to grow and create jobs.
- The quality of water and sanitation infrastructure significantly affects community health, particularly levels of observed malnutrition. Although connection to the public water supply is common, reliability in water delivery is not. Most households have to supplement their water supply from secondary sources such as tanker trucks or open wells.
- Only 9 percent of the poor and 13 percent of the non-poor report a stable supply of water from the public system. Nearly a third reports daily interruptions, and another third reports weak supply or interruptions more than once a week.
- Homeownership among the poor is 82 percent, which is higher than homeownership among the non-poor, which is around 78 percent. This difference is due to the likelihood that the poor live in rural areas where homeownership is relatively high compared to urban areas.
- Seventy-one percent of Iraqis live in urban areas, and 51 percent of Iraqi households are crowded, some with as many as 10 people living in one home. Crowding is particularly severe among the poor, lying at 81 percent compared to the 44 percent of the non-poor. Fourteen percent of poor live in homes with dirt floors, while only 3 percent of the non-poor.
These 10 facts about poverty in Iraq show how this war-torn nation must focus on improving infrastructure, healthcare and government in order to decrease dropping poverty rates. Change is needed immediately in order to improve the security and strength of this impoverished nation.
– Kailey Brennan