Eradicating Poverty in Mauritius
Home to approximately 1.2 million people, the Republic of Mauritius is an island located off of the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius has a complicated history of Dutch, French and British colonization, though it gained independence in 1968. Previously, the economy of Mauritius emerged solely from sugar production. However, exports, tourism, agriculture and financial services are key pillars of today’s economy as the successful efforts to diversify since 1980. With a successful economy, less than 1% of the population of Mauritius was living on less than $1.25 per day in 2012. This means extreme poverty in Mauritius is rare.

Poverty Rate

The middle class is shrinking as relative poverty rates have been steadily increasing over time from 8.5% in 2007 to 9.8% in 2012. Additionally, it is important to note that within the Republic, Rodrigues Island has high rates of poverty. About 40% of the inhabitants live in poverty. This is due to its lack of exportable resources as well as the fact that it is not able to participate in the tourist industry.

Plans to Eradicate Poverty in Mauritius

The Social Integration and Empowerment Bill is in place in an effort to eradicate social exclusion and poverty. From 2017 to 2020 the Mauritian government has allocated $63 million to implement the plan from which the bill originated.

The three features of the Social Integration and Empowerment Bill are as follows:

  1. The School Completion Premium is a cash incentive to keep disadvantaged young people from dropping out of school before finishing their secondary education. This program also specifically focuses on young people on Rodrigues Island, where poverty rates are higher than the rest of the Republic.
  2. Social protections have emerged that target the poor. For example, universal pensions for all and subsidies for the elderly and students. These protections include universal basic pensions, free health services, free public transportation and free education. Without these protections, the poverty rate would have increased greatly. It is estimated that the 2017 poverty rate of 9.6% would have been 23% without any protections. In addition, the rate will be 16.1% without government-funded education services alone.
  3. The plan directs resources towards modernization by connecting the poor with mobile phones. As a result, this will give them access to a wider range of information and opportunities.

Other features of the Marshall Plan include the empowerment of women and youth. This will increase the human capital of the Republic and environmental protections which benefit the poor. The government’s commitment to ending poverty in Mauritius through policy and reforms reflects the resilience and spirit of the beautiful. With continued reforms and expansion of policies, poverty in Mauritius will likely continue to decrease.

Meg Sinnott
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in MauritiusOff the coast of Madagascar lies the island nation of Mauritius, teeming with pristine beaches, lush forests and ethnic diversity. Poverty in Mauritius has been reduced to just eight percent of the population since the country has flourished economically after winning independence from the United Kingdom in 1968.

Mauritius is an upper middle-income country with sugar, tourism, textiles and financial services mainly driving the economy. Many international entities, especially those interested in doing business with India, South Africa and China, are attracted to Mauritius.

While most Mauritians were employed in the agriculture or fishing industries at the time of independence, these industries now make up less than 10 percent of the labor force. The majority of Mauritians are now employed in construction and industry or restaurants and hotels. Other services also make up a large part of the labor force.

Mauritius has benefited greatly from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) passed by U.S. Congress in 2000. The AGOA allows duty-free exports to the U.S. market. Mauritius has increased exports to the U.S. by 40 percent from 2000-2014.

Like other developing nations, income inequality increased in Mauritius during the rapid industrialization. However, the government has established social welfare programs to eradicate poverty in Mauritius. This includes food stamps, social services, micro-financing to small businesses, female empowerment in the labor market and the ZEP program that seeks to raise primary school exam scores in underperforming schools. The government of Mauritius also provides Social Security for those over 60, free primary and secondary education and free healthcare.

Creoles of African descent are especially vulnerable to poverty in Mauritius. Mauritian creoles are descendants of slaves brought from Africa to Mauritius in the 18th and 19th centuries. Creoles have the weakest sense of identity out of all the Mauritian ethnic groups, as plantation owners intentionally mixed slaves from various ethnic groups together to eliminate any family ties, shared languages or any other forms of social organization.

Studies show that poverty occurs more often in households with a large number of dependent children, female-headed households, single-parent households and single person households.

In 2015 the government began developing the Marshall Plan to eradicate poverty in Mauritius. The plan will focus on:

  • Social protection
  • Housing
  • Social inclusion and community development
  • Access to education
  • Employment for sustainable livelihood, especially for vulnerable groups
  • Youth economic empowerment
  • Access to electricity, sanitation, water, transportation, and ICT (information, communications and technology) services
  • Environmental protection

Cassie Lipp

Photo: Flickr