Poverty in Tuvalu
Tuvalu is one of the poorest nations in the world. It has one of the smallest populations of the Pacific Islands, with an estimated 2011 population of 11,200 people.

However, just 1,500 of the population is formally employed, and the average worker makes only $1,000 per year. Creating and maintaining fiscal resilience in Tuvalu, as well as upgrading maritime infrastructure are currently key priorities for the country’s government.

As the country has few exports, it is almost fully dependent on external aid, variable revenue from fishing licenses, remittances, surpluses from the country’s overseas trust fund and rent of its “dot tv” internet extension. Roughly 26.3 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. This makes Tuvalu one of the poorest nations on earth.

However, what Tuvalu lacks in revenue generation, it makes up for in its social initiatives. Despite above average poverty in Tuvalu, education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 13.

About 98 percent of the country’s youth attend primary school. While many of Tuvalu’s citizens remain in poverty, there is little poverty of academic opportunity in Tuvalu as most citizens have the ability to receive an education.

Health care is also free for the inhabitants of Tuvalu. However, this freedom is limited as only the main island of Funafuti has a hospital. The rest of the islands house medical dispensaries.

Almost all births are attended by a medical professional, and infant and maternal mortality rate are low. Though health care has improved and the child mortality rate has declined, the under five mortality rate in Tuvalu was at 30.8 in 2012. For every 1,000 babies born, 23 die before their first birthday.

Low-income levels are often offset by strong support networks in towns and villages. In 1998, Tuvalu was judged as the only nation above reproach for human rights violations.

Poverty in Tuvalu sets a phenomenal example for other countries by taking care of its people despite its economic instability. The complex social matrices within the island ensure that its citizens are supported and cared for, despite their general lack of revenue.

Kayla Provencher

Photo: Flickr