Colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. Located in Eastern Asia, Macau borders the South China Sea and China. Although noted as a wealthy country, is hunger in Macau a problem?
Known as the “Las Vegas of the East” and with a GDP per capita more than double that of the United Kingdom, Macau is listed as the world’s third wealthiest city behind Luxembourg and Qatar, according to the International Monetary Fund.
With a population around 600,000 people, Macau’s life expectancy is at 84.5 years. For the male population, it is noted that 15.8 percent were overweight, while 18.8 percent were obese. Significantly more men than women aged 25-44 years were overweight and obese in Macau. Although Asia is noted as the continent with the most hunger issues, hunger in Macau is seen as a country with a small problem of malnutrition, but a bigger problem of overeating.
Local government statistics say that only 2.3 percent of Macau’s population lives in poverty, but the percentage is based on income and does not take into account the high cost of living. With the cost of living rising and wages staying the same, the rising costs have forced some to leave the country to seek a cheaper life in China.
While Macau’s poor are ignored and suffer, big businesses flourish. Instead of building houses and helping the poor, the government allocates more money to the gambling business. It is estimated that 10 percent of the population lives in poverty, with 7 percent struggling to fulfill basic needs such as food.
According to the Macau Daily Times, Macau Oxfam does not simply offer food and other resources to those in need, it also provides them with seeds and teaches them how to get out of the poverty cycle.
Although the country has yet to take action in recognizing hunger in Macau and helping their own, it has formed the organization Macau Famine. This includes a series of educational and fundraising activities based on the year’s theme. Generous donations are used to support World Vision’s work in Asian countries by providing health and nutrition assistance for children and families.
– Stefanie Podosek