Poverty in Moldova
Poverty in Moldova? The Republic of Moldova, a tiny agriculturally-dependent country, lies between Romania and Ukraine, who are giant neighbors by contrast. Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the country continues to struggle in its unfamiliar market-based economy and therefore, poverty in Moldova remains a major issue.

According to data from the World Bank’s 2013 World Development Report­­, approximately 263,000 Moldovans are unemployed and more than 427,000 live on less than $1.25 per day. Moldova’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is around $6.5 million.

However, as the Moldova Foundation points out, basic statistics such as GDP and unemployment rates are not enough to accurately measure the extent of poverty in Moldova due to high levels of regional inequality.

Although agriculture is Moldova’s most prominent sector, employing nearly 40 percent of its population, exporting its products throughout Europe is a challenge. Due to the European Union’s limited trading policies, Moldova’s presence in the EU market is still largely unnoticeable.

Current EU laws make it difficult for non-member states to trade agricultural products. These EU regulations are particularly damaging for Moldova since produce makes up 50 percent of their total exports. Consequently, Moldovan farmers are limited to selling their commodities to buyers within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) market, mainly Russia. Considering Moldova and Russia’s insecure political relationship, many question Russia’s reliability as a trading partner.

In addition to a lack of economic diversity, external factors, such as the weather, negatively affect the yields of farmers in Moldova. Since 1998, cycles of drought and early frosts have made it difficult for crops to grow.

What is even more detrimental to rural families in Moldova are the U.N.’s discoveries reported in its 2015 Human Development Report. According to the U.N.’s findings, there are major disparities between urban and rural populations in the country.

In 2014, 19 percent of Moldova’s rural population lived below the absolute poverty rate compared to five percent of the urban population. Moreover, only 23 percent of people in rural areas in Moldova had access to safe drinking water whereas 69 percent of people in metropolitan zones did. Likewise, a startling one percent of the rural population lived near sewerage systems, while 50 percent of city-dwellers had access.

Given that poverty in Moldova is widespread in rural regions and agriculture is a crucial aspect of its economy, investment in the future of farmers would certainly benefit the country’s most vulnerable.

Kristina Evans

Photo: Flickr