Home to approximately 1.2 million people, the Republic of Mauritius is an island located off of the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius has a complicated history of Dutch, French and British colonization, though it gained independence in 1968. Previously, the economy of Mauritius emerged solely from sugar production. However, exports, tourism, agriculture and financial services are key pillars of today’s economy as the successful efforts to diversify since 1980. With a successful economy, less than 1% of the population of Mauritius was living on less than $1.25 per day in 2012. This means extreme poverty in Mauritius is rare.
The middle class is shrinking as relative poverty rates have been steadily increasing over time from 8.5% in 2007 to 9.8% in 2012. Additionally, it is important to note that within the Republic, Rodrigues Island has high rates of poverty. About 40% of the inhabitants live in poverty. This is due to its lack of exportable resources as well as the fact that it is not able to participate in the tourist industry.
Plans to Eradicate Poverty in Mauritius
The Social Integration and Empowerment Bill is in place in an effort to eradicate social exclusion and poverty. From 2017 to 2020 the Mauritian government has allocated $63 million to implement the plan from which the bill originated.
The three features of the Social Integration and Empowerment Bill are as follows:
- The School Completion Premium is a cash incentive to keep disadvantaged young people from dropping out of school before finishing their secondary education. This program also specifically focuses on young people on Rodrigues Island, where poverty rates are higher than the rest of the Republic.
- Social protections have emerged that target the poor. For example, universal pensions for all and subsidies for the elderly and students. These protections include universal basic pensions, free health services, free public transportation and free education. Without these protections, the poverty rate would have increased greatly. It is estimated that the 2017 poverty rate of 9.6% would have been 23% without any protections. In addition, the rate will be 16.1% without government-funded education services alone.
- The plan directs resources towards modernization by connecting the poor with mobile phones. As a result, this will give them access to a wider range of information and opportunities.
Other features of the Marshall Plan include the empowerment of women and youth. This will increase the human capital of the Republic and environmental protections which benefit the poor. The government’s commitment to ending poverty in Mauritius through policy and reforms reflects the resilience and spirit of the beautiful. With continued reforms and expansion of policies, poverty in Mauritius will likely continue to decrease.
– Meg Sinnott