In 2015, statistics showed that hunger and poverty in Malta have become a consistent issue. Moreover, 16.3 percent of the population was considered “at-risk” for monetary poverty. The average disposable income for individual households was less than EUR 26,000 per year.

The phenomena of hunger and poverty in Malta, as well as severe material deprivation, results from several factors. These include low income, social exclusion and low work intensity. Nearly half of the Maltese population has indicated an inability to afford even one week of vacation during the year.

Individuals living in single family homes face the greatest risk of falling below the median poverty threshold. When there is one less person in the home, there is one less steady income.

According to the Nationalist Party (NP), poverty levels continue to rise for the Maltese population. The cost of food, fuel and medicine increase steadily, despite a recent yet slight increase in job salaries. As a result, those living in impoverished states continue to face the unfortunate repercussions of low income levels.

Furthermore, the increase in costs for the basic necessities of life has had a ripple effect on lower income individuals who were already struggling. Therefore, the slight rise in income levels has not been able to offset the rising costs of living.

In 2016, 21,000 Maltese children were classified as being at risk for poverty — 28.2 percent of the population. In response to the disconcerting rates of hunger and poverty in Malta, the NP has voiced its discontent by citing a lack of care by the country’s current government. According to the NP, the number of at-risk persons has risen to 94,250. Eighty-eight thousand individuals were at risk prior to the last election.

There are roughly 24,000 children who come from low-income families facing material deprivations including food deprivation. Their families are in grave need of social assistance from the government. Furthermore, suggested solutions for eradicating poverty and social exclusion include “investing in more educational equality and in strengthening the family,” as well as providing adequate support for individuals who cannot work due to mental or physical problems.

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr