Buenos Aires, Argentina is a difficult place to be poor.
The government announced earlier in 2014 that poverty levels at the national level continue to decline. Between 2011 and 2012, the nation’s poverty levels dropped from 5.7 percent to 4.3 percent. However, the impoverished of Buenos Aires continue to experience hardships.
Despite a slight reduction in poverty in the first decade of the century, Buenos Aires’ residents considered to be either poor or extremely poor continue to heavily populate the city.
Rising food prices in recent years have contributed to the problem. Crime is also a common problem in and around Buenos Aires. According to a 2011 report, crime is considered to be “one of the biggest burdens facing residents.” Robberies, especially muggings at bus stops, as well as street violence and other shootings are not unordinary in part due to a lack of police presence in areas of the city and the metropolitan region’s poorer areas.
Not helping the level of poverty in Buenos Aires is the city’s inadequate housing. Much of the city’s substandard housing was built with second-hand materials. Some of the buildings were never even finished.
While the city’s water and sanitation levels are adequate, Buenos Aires’ general infrastructure is subpar. The metropolitan areas lack the necessary architectural support to withstand hazards and extreme weather events.
In addition to such shortcomings, notable discrepancies exist among the city’s wealthy and poor. Even though certain areas of Buenos Aires remain inadequate, the more wealthy parts of the city possess newer, stable infrastructure.
Like other regions in South America, Buenos Aires features an abundance of low-income housing on unstable land. This includes land with contamination, low-lying and flood-prone areas and land on or near landfills.
One of the government’s most notable criticisms is its indecision in implementing a national poverty line. Even though many developed and some developing nations maintain such a threshold, Argentina does not.
In recent years, the Argentinean government stated that six pesos, or roughly $1.30, are enough for a citizen to sustain an entire day’s worth of food. The statement drew outrage both domestically and internationally. Given the expenses of living in a city, the average Buenos Aires resident would face financial hardships subsisting on such an amount.
Recently, children inhabiting one of Buenos Aires’ most dangerous slums have utilized cricket and the competitive spirit of sport as a means to separate themselves from a life of poverty. The Caacupe cricket team has seen some of its players enter training sessions at private schools and even play internationally.
“You can really use it in life as well,” fourteen-year-old Alexis Gaona said in an Associated Press article from March. “From here you have a reference for the rest of your life.”
It is a silver lining in a city where being poor poses many challenges.
– Ethan Safran