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Poverty Rate in the Solomon IslandsIn 1568, Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña became the first European to visit the 992-island archipelago known today as the Solomon Islands. He named the islands after the wealthy and wise biblical king of Israel, inspired, as legend goes, by a belief that their cerulean seas and white-sand shores guarded untold riches. That assumption was largely mistaken, as seen in the poverty rate in the Solomon Islands today.

 

Exploring the Poverty Rate in the Solomon Islands

 

Although modern tourism has added to the Islands’ economic portfolio, these profits are still few and far between and unevenly distributed. The vast majority of wealth is concentrated in the capital city, Honiara, in which 85 percent of the population is in the Islands’ highest wealth quintile.

According to the Asian Development Bank, in 2013, 12.7 percent of Solomon Islanders lived below the national poverty line. Nutrition-wise, they fared better: only 4.4 percent lived below the food poverty line. However, a mere 35.1 percent had access to electricity.

Technological developments and investment continue to play a vital role in reducing poverty in the Solomon Islands. In April 2017, the World Bank reported that the Green Climate Fund has approved $86 million toward the Tina River Hydropower Project, an effort to reduce reliance on imported fuel for electricity generation. This investment accompanies the $15 million provided by the International Renewable Energy Agency/Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (IRENA/ADFD).

The Solomon Islands’ electricity retail tariffs are currently among the highest in the world, at $0.65 per kilowatt-hour. Given that the Islands generate 97 percent of their electricity from diesel fuel and only 12 percent of homes are currently connected to grid power, this project stands to reduce the burden on working families and illuminate the islands like never before.

And, with electricity, the Islands should see an economic boost. The Asian Development Bank notes that tourism is a largely untapped market with great potential for development. Cheaper and more abundant energy is good for more than just powering residential areas: it can also lay groundwork for the sort of 24-hour “City of Light” that modern tourism creates and feeds on. With a stronger, cheaper energy grid in place, private investment will follow.

New technology and investments like these, guided by sound and prescient public policy, will be crucial to reducing the poverty rate in the Solomon Islands and materializing those mythical riches dreamed of since the days of de Mendaña.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Flickr

Czechia Poverty RateThe Czechia poverty rate continues to rank among the lowest in the EU. At 5.9 percent, the eastern European nation, which shed its English moniker of “Czech Republic” early in 2017, beat out such neighbors as Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Italy and Spain, all of whom have rates exceeding 10 percent.

In the OECD, Czechia ranks behind only Denmark in terms of poverty rate, which measures the amount of families living below a country’s poverty line. In Czechia, that number is 10,220 crowns (about $431 USD) per individual and 21,461 crowns (about $906 USD) for families with children.

Based on population-weighted estimates drawn from household surveys, the poverty rate is not necessarily a perfect benchmark for comparison between nations. Indicators are specific to each country’s economic and social circumstances, and a variety of factors influence perception of poverty.

However, other metrics tell the same story of a robust quality of life within Czechia. Not only is the Czechia poverty rate one of the lowest, the nation’s wealth inequality outperforms other high-performing countries. Only 22 percent of Czech income is held by the wealthiest 10 percent, lower than the U.S., China, Indonesia and Chile, who have rates of 30.2, 31.4, 31.9 and 41.5 percent respectively. The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, is a relatively low .26 for Czechia, and unemployment lingers at an impressive 3 percent as of 2017.

Explanations for the country’s favorable economic indicators are many. Czechia has an excellent education track record, with enrollment standing at 99.75 percent. Government funds have been redirected to education over the past decade, while decreasing in other sectors such as infrastructure. Public reform following the 2008 global economic crisis saw a VAT hike and reduction of social welfare benefits, but included significant tax discounts in other sectors of the economy and pensions that nearly doubled.

Though these factors have aided in suppressing the Czechia poverty rate, conditions for the majority of employees are not necessarily as complimentary. As average Czech wages increase, they still remain substantially lower than the EU median. An average wage across industry of $23,003 USD reflects Czechia’s tough minimum wage, which remains one of the lowest among OECD nations. The country’s main source of income comes from engineering and machine-building industries, which accounts for 37.5 percent of the economy. With a popular tourist destination for a capital, services bring in around 60 percent of Czechia’s wealth.

Forecasts predict a sustained pace of economic growth but slowing rates of employment. Inflation, which jumped from 2016 to 2017, is expected to decline as debt continues to diminish post-recession. It remains to be seen whether or not the trend in Czechia’s low poverty rate will continue.

Mikaela Krim

Photo: Google

Senegal Poverty Rate
Senegal, the westernmost country in Africa, has a population of about 13 million people. Nearly half of the Senegalese population—46.7 percent, to be exact—are living in poverty. The following 10 facts explain and give context for the poverty rate in Senegal:

  1. The poverty rate in Senegal is determined in terms of consumption. Estimates of consumption per household are divided by the number of adults in the household. This number excludes children, who are assumed to consume less than adults. From here, a minimum acceptable standard of consumption is calculated and individuals below this level of consumption are considered poor.
  2. Geographic disparities exist between rural areas and Dakar, the capital city and the largest city in Senegal. In rural areas, 66 percent of residents are considered poor, compared to 25 percent of residents in Dakar. Additionally, the general poverty line in Dakar is almost two times higher than it is in rural areas.
  3. As of 2011, 38 percent of Senegal’s population was living on $1.90 or less per day.
  4. As of 2016, Senegal’s GNI per capita was $950.
  5. Senegal’s economy relies on industries such as mining, construction, agriculture, fishing and tourism, but it also heavily relies on foreign aid and remittances. Nearly 75 percent of the population works in the agriculture sector, which is regularly threatened by inclement weather such as drought and climate change.
  6. Senegal has a poor economy and, as a result, many Senegalese people emigrate to other countries. An economic crisis in 1970 ignited migration, which had accelerated by 1990. Many migrants left for Libya and Mauritania for opportunities in their thriving oil industries. Others left for more developed countries such as France, Italy and Spain for other economic opportunities.
  7. Senegal’s GDP rose at an average of 4.5 percent each year from 1995 to 2005. After 2005, however, while the rest of Africa enjoyed economic growth, Senegal’s economy started to decline. From 2005 to 2011, Senegal’s economy rose at an average rate of 3.3 percent. Decline in economic growth, especially during this period, can be attributed to drought, floods, rising fuel prices and the global financial crisis.
  8. The World Bank reported that GDP growth is too low for significant poverty reduction in Senegal.
  9. The fertility rate in Senegal is almost 4.5 children per woman. Young people comprise a large portion of the population at 60 percent of the Senegalese population. Additionally, Senegal has an illiteracy rate of 40 percent and a high unemployment rate of 12.7 percent, both of which provide dim outlooks for Senegalese youth. According to the Hunger Project, 22 percent of children ages five to 14 are working and not attending school.
  10. Unlike many countries facing extreme poverty, Senegal has one of the most stable governments in Africa and is considered a model for democracy in Africa. Since its independence from France in 1960, Senegal has elected four presidents and has witnessed three peaceful political transitions.

Despite the fact that the poverty rate in Senegal is high, many projects have been implemented to reduce the poverty rate. President Macky Sall unveiled the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP), which strives to prioritize economic reforms and growth. The International Monetary Fund is providing assistance for the ESP from 2015 to 2017.

In an attempt to take a fresh look at poverty, Senegal’s national statistics office distributed the second Senegal Poverty Monitoring Survey. The World Bank, the Canadian government and the World Food Programme provided financial support. The survey, however, has room for error, because it is heavily dependent on the time of year that residents fill it out, as consumption levels vary based on the harvest.

Furthermore, microfinance has begun to play a key role in reducing poverty in very poor countries, such as Senegal. This program has allowed very poor individuals who are excluded from traditional banking to obtain microloans. The Hunger Project introduced the Microfinance Program (MFP) in Senegal, which strives to incorporate female farmers and entrepreneurs to give them a larger voice in the community. Three of the MFPs in Senegal have been approved by the government to operate as rural banks. MFPs provide credit and savings programs and have allowed many farmers to move beyond exclusively subsistence farming.

Economic growth will be the key component in reducing poverty in Senegal. These projects from the Senegalese government and various organizations hope to spark economic growth and help reduce the poverty rate in Senegal.

Christiana Lano

Photo: Google

Central African Republic Poverty RateThe Central African Republic is among the poorest countries in the world. In 2017, the country had the lowest reported GDP per capita, at $656, and the average person lives on less than $1.80 per day. The Central African Republic’s poverty rate is among the highest in the world, with 62 percent of citizens living on less than $1.90 per day when the data was last taken.

The incredible poverty rate is due to a variety of factors, perhaps none more important than the Central African Republic’s history as part of the French Empire. As a country rich in natural resources that have been in demand throughout history, the Central African Republic has been exploited by western nations from the beginning of the Age of Imperialism to the modern day.

Internal conflict has worsened the problems originally begun by western imperialism. Since the Central African Republic gained independence in 1960, the major Christian and Muslim factions in the country have rarely ceased in-fighting. Alongside religious rivalries, multiple ethnic groups and political ideologies have contributed to widespread violence and instability throughout the country.

Longstanding political instability has led to a severe lack of development, one of the greatest reasons behind the abysmal Central African Republic’s poverty rate. Widespread poverty has allowed the country to wallow in incredibly low rates of development for years, ranking 179th out of 187 countries.

In a population of just over four million people, nearly 370,000 children will grow up without one or both of their parents, and more than 50 percent of the population can neither read nor write. Almost five percent of the population carries HIV/AIDS, one of the highest rates in the world.

Numerous groups worldwide are providing necessary aid to the Central African Republic, but many focus on providing emergency relief. While any and all aid is needed throughout the country, short-term solutions do little to assuage the Central African Republic’s poverty rate. In order to provide a long-term solution to poverty, the International Rescue Committee is, alongside emergency aid and health services, creating programs that help both men and women receive education and set up businesses. This program will allow Central Africans take the first steps out of poverty themselves.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Grenada Poverty RateGrenada prime minister Keith Mitchell said that the greatest challenge he faced was bringing down the Grenada poverty rate. This is with good reason. Although the government has implemented many developmental programs, Grenada remains poor. However, with the right determination and effort, Grenada may have hope.

Currently, the Grenada poverty rate stands at 32 percent. The country also has the highest extreme poverty rate in the eastern Caribbean, with a rate of 13 percent. It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the Caribbean as well. About 15 percent of people are out of work in Grenada.

The economic situation in Grenada is fragile. Agriculture and tourism are very important economically. Approximately 90 percent of the farms in Grenada are less than 2 hectares. This has caused the Grenada economy to fluctuate over the past couple of years. For example, in 2008 the economy grew by 2 percent, only to shrink by 8 percent in 2009.

In response to lower agricultural production, the Grenada government has implemented the Cocoa Revitalization Program. The goal of this program is to commercialize over 1,000 acres of land. The government is also planning on launching the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Rural Enterprise Programme in 2018. The goal of the program is to increase agricultural productivity through better information about climate change. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) also implemented the Grenada Rural Enterprise Project to combat Grenada’s rural problems.

The government also has several economic development programs underway. The government received $10.8 million from the IMF under the Emergency Assistance Program, which they invested into the Bridges and Roads Investment Project.

If the Grenada government continues to be dedicated to ending poverty, the Grenada poverty rate will go down. As Prime Minister Mitchell said, “The future is promising but challenging. However, together with the CDB and our non-borrowing members, we are assured that we can achieve the future we want for the people.”

Bruce Edwin Ayres Truax

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in East TimorEast Timor is one of the youngest countries in the world. Located in eastern Asia, the Independent Republic of Timor- Leste declared independence in 2002. Since then, the oil-dependent economy has grown rapidly and the government has worked to create institutions and provide services. East Timor has funded development by rerouting money from its petroleum fund, which collects profits from the petroleum-based economy. The government distributed these funds through its budget. East Timor created the Strategic Development Plan to guide its work from 2011 to 2030. Despite the government’s focused work, much of the country still lives in poverty.

What is the poverty rate in East Timor?
A reported 41.8 percent of the population in East Timor lives below the national poverty line. There is also immense income inequality in East Timor. In 2006, the poorest two-fifths of the population accounted for 18 percent of the country’s expenditure and the wealthiest two-fifths of the population accounted for 66 percent of the spending. Poverty rates are highest in rural areas.

How has the poverty rate changed?
In 2001, the poverty rate in East Timor was 36.3 percent. In 2007, the poverty rate rose to 49.9 percent. The poverty rate increased from 2001 to 2007 because the part of the economy not based on petroleum decreased. The non-petroleum economy must increase in order for the poverty rate in East Timor to decline. In addition, some of the initial elections in the country were violent and chaotic, which can cause poverty and instability.

What are some of the causes of poverty in East Timor?
As a young country, East Timor has had to rapidly create many institutions. The expanding population is placing pressure on the already limited job market. Many people in East Timor are unemployed. In addition, the transition from Indonesian occupation was chaotic and violent. A significant amount of infrastructure in the country was destroyed or damaged during this transition. These damages have hurt the operation of the economy and the government has had to fund repair projects.

How can the government reduce the poverty rate in East Timor?
The government needs to make plans to diversify the economy. In addition, the country needs to improve healthcare and education services. The population needs to gain industry skills so that the economy can expand and diversify. Programs should be designed to target young people; 60 percent of the population is under 25, and they are the future workforce. The government should also encourage private investment. Finally, as a new country, East Timor must continue strengthening its national and regional institutions.

While East Timor has quite a long way to go, it has also seen many successes, mainly in healthcare and education. The population has an increased life expectancy and a reduced child mortality since 2002. School enrollment and literacy have increased since the country gained independence. East Timor also eliminated leprosy since its inception. The poverty rate in East Timor should continue to decline due to the government’s focused work.

Sarah Denning

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in AndorraAndorra is a small nation in Europe, landlocked between the French and Spanish borders. For the majority of the country’s history, both French and Spanish leaders ran the government. This form of rule continued until 1993, when the feudal system that ran the nation was modified, leaving the co-princes of the nation to work alongside a parliamentary democracy to execute the rule of the country.

The Poverty Rate in Andorra

Before World War II, the majority of the citizens in Andorra lived in the same way they did in the Middle Ages. They primarily survived on small-scale farming and smuggling. In the modern day, this trend persists, and many citizens continue to live in old farmhouses from this era in history.

The subsequent increase in European tourism in the 1950s aided the country in developing its more rural regions. As tourism increased, old farm houses and undeveloped land became family hotels and restaurants, allowing for people in a lower income bracket to participate in the economy. When measured in 1996, Andorra had a GDP per capita of $18,000, which was higher than its neighbor, Spain.

The service-based economy has proven to be effective at maintaining a low poverty rate in Andorra. When measured in 1998, the country had a 1.62 percent rate of inflation. This low inflation rate and participation in the country’s economy have allowed even the poorest people to have a high standard of living. No extreme cases of poverty have been recorded in the country in recent history.

The Takeaway

Andorra is a country that made the most of the increased tourism in Europe after World War II. By allowing its citizens to convert their small farms into business, the poverty rate in Andorra has managed to remain low. Other European nations that have small economies should emulate the model that Andorra practices due to its effectiveness in maintaining a low poverty rate.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in South KoreaThe poverty rate in South Korea not only decreased in the past few decades, but it now also continues to decline. When examining the poverty rate in the country, however, there seems to be one apparent issue: the poverty rate among people who are 34 years old or younger and people who are 65 years old and older have both increased.

Comparing the two, the poverty rate among people aged over 65 is significantly higher than people below the age of 34 — 64 percent compared to 12 — and therefore a greater cause for concern for the country.

These numbers directly contrast the overall movement of the poverty rate in South Korea. Among people aged from 35 to 50 years old, the poverty rate hovers around six percent and the rate among 50 to 65 years old stays at approximately 12 percent. Seeing as the poverty rate in South Korea tends to dramatically vary based on age range, it begs the question as to what is causing such wealth disparity between the different age groups in South Korea.

The answer to such a question can primarily be attributed to two main factors: increased competition in the work force and age discrimination among employers.

As the population of South Korea continues to grow, so too does the competition for jobs. Many young South Koreans seek employment opportunities in a competitive marketplace that only becomes more competitive over time.

In combination with the slowing of the world economy, this can have devastating effects on the young as the rate of competition for jobs slowly continues to increase while the number of jobs available paradoxically decreases. This explains the youth unemployment rate in South Korea, which rose to approximately eight percent at the end of 2016.

Another major issue is the inability for people aged 65 and older to generate income. This occurs because many elderly citizens are forced out of the workplace and then do not receive enough government subsidies to survive. It is typical for companies to force employees who are in their mid-fifties into retirement with the interest of bringing in younger, “fresher” workers.

To further exacerbate this issue, the public pension system in South Korea was only established in 1988 and leaves many people who retired in the mid-2000s with little to no retirement. It is the combination of these two issues that has been significantly contributing to the increasing poverty rate in South Korea.

In order to lower the poverty rate, it may become essential that South Korea prioritizes making its public pension system more efficient so as to provide more people with funds after retirement. Without such correction, it may become impossible for elderly people in South Korea to sustain a healthy lifestyle once consistent sources of income cease.

Garrett Keyes

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in AlbaniaAlbania is a country located on the Balkan Peninsula with a large coastline facing the Adriatic Sea. The country has a Muslim majority due to the continued influence of the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the country for centuries. After World War II, Albania became a communist state. It was only in 1990 that the country became a democratic country. Although this shift was beneficial for human rights in the country, the dramatic change has negatively impacted the poverty rate in Albania.

When Albania shifted from a communist country to a democratic one, the GDP of the country saw a sharp decline. Between the years 1990 and 1992, the country’s GDP dropped from $2.1 billion to $709 million. In recent years, the GDP has been growing at around three percent per year, and, in 2013, the GDP growth was measured to be 3.5 percent.

This dramatic shift in GDP caused many living in the country during the communist rule to leave the country for more prosperous European states. The dramatic change in GDP also caused the poverty rate in Albania to increase.

The last time the incidence of poverty had been measured was in 2012, and at that time 14.3 percent of the population was living under conditions of extreme poverty. This change was a vast improvement to the 25.4 percent of people living in poverty in 2002. However, Albania has seen a recent increase in its poverty rate at the beginning of the 2010s. Many of these people tend to live in the mountainous regions, where economic investment does not make sense to many businesses.

Many who explore the country see the nation’s beautiful scenery and natural beauty. However, many people visiting fail to see the hidden poverty in the nation. Many citizens who live in the mountainous regions of the country struggle to put food on their tables every day and the towns they live in lack thriving businesses to create economic activity.

There is hope for the people struggling with the high poverty rate in Albania, despite its recent increases. World Vision is a nongovernmental organization working within the nation to help the most vulnerable of people in Albania. The organization strives to provide sponsorship opportunities, educational outlets, healthcare and economic development in the towns most affected by the shift to a democratically led government. This work done by World Vision, as well as the rising GDP in Albania, is likely to help keep the poverty rate in Albania from rising any further.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate Of CambodiaCambodia is a country in Southeast Asia with a population of just over 15 million people. The country has numerous ethnicities including people from Vietnam, China and over 30 hill tribes. Although the economy in Cambodia has been improving ever since the dawn of the 21st century, the poverty rate in Cambodia is still relatively high.

The poverty line in Cambodia is defined as living while only using $0.93 or less each day. As indicated by a study done by the Ministry of Planning in 2009, about 22.9 percent of the Cambodian population currently lives under the poverty line. This percentage means that these people do not have enough resources to meet their daily needs.

This poverty rate has only been exacerbated by the history of conflict in the region. The start of this economic crisis lasted from 1980 to 1989 and was spurred by the reign of the communist regime, Khmer Rouge. Socialist policies, the suppression of the Cambodian population and government corruption under this regime continued to stunt the growth of the Cambodian economy. It was only in 1989 when the Cambodian people gained independence from Khmer Rouge that its economy began to grow again.

Freedom from Khmer Rouge brought the free market to the region. Some key factors that allowed the Cambodian government to grow so quickly include expansion of construction, tourism, and the growth of the agricultural sector.

The population of Cambodians still living in the countryside still struggle with poverty. The Asian Development Bank conducted a study in 2012, attempting to determine the poverty rate in this region. They found that 18.9 percent of the Cambodian population lived in poverty and many of them living in rural areas.

The reason for the higher rate in the rural regions of Cambodia stems from their lack of access to the skills and tools needed to escape poverty. Rural citizens have little access to primary education, health care and public services due to the lack of government support. This lack of infrastructure all stems from the country’s newfound freedom from Khmer Rouge.

Even though Cambodia has recently gained freedom from Khmer Rouge, corruption in the government continues to hold back progress in the region. An indication of this was that, in 2010, Cambodia ranked 154th out of 178 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index, making it one of the most corrupt countries in the world. This amount of corruption acts as a deterrent for foreign investors, further contributing to its high poverty rate.

However, there is hope for reducing the poverty rate in Cambodia. As the GDP increases in the country, foreign investors will continue to consider Cambodia as a place to invest. On top of this, the United Nations tasked Cambodia to meet the Millennium Development targets by 2015.

These goals included reducing corruption in the government, increasing the GDP, and improving infrastructure within the country. Cambodia managed to reach these goals, and the U.N. stated that the country was “an early achiever” and it praised the country for the work it had been doing to alleviate poverty.

The future of Cambodia is still uncertain, but if the nation continues to work alongside the U.N. and continues to meet the goals created by the Millennium Development program, the poverty rate in Cambodia can only go down, and the quality of life in the nation can only go up.

Nicholas Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr