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Poverty in JamaicaMany view Jamaica as the heart of the Caribbean, with beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. However, Jamaica has long faced an uphill economic climb that continues to plague the nation. While Jamaica’s GDP saw growth from 2013 onward, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the economy. The state of poverty in Jamaica indicates regression since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The poverty rate in Jamaica rose 4% in two years, sitting at 23% in 2020.

Tourism Industry in Jamaica

Due to the nation’s heavy reliance on the tourism industry, the COVID-19 pandemic affected Jamaica significantly. The tourism industry alone accounts for $60 billion in gross domestic product while generating 2.8 million jobs for the citizens of Jamaica, according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness. In 2019 alone, a staggering 4.2 million tourists flocked to the beaches and resorts on the island.

However, once the pandemic hit Jamaica, the tourism industry came to a halt as did tourism-based income. The gross domestic product decreased by 9.9% in the year 2020, accounting for the steepest decline in the island’s history. During the peak of the pandemic, in July 2020, the unemployment rate reached 12.6%.

The CARE Programme

To combat this harsh reality, the Jamaican government stepped up to the plate to assist citizens. One of the most significant moves the government receives applause for is its implementation of a social and economic support program called the CARE Programme.

In order to improve the state of poverty in Jamaica, the program provided “compassionate grants to those who were unemployed or informally employed” before the onset of the pandemic. Those facing unemployment as a result of the pandemic received “temporary unemployment benefits” and the program supplied grants to small businesses and self-employed individuals whose income decreased due to the pandemic. The CARE Programme also provides aid to ill, elderly and disabled Jamaicans as well as other economically disadvantaged groups by boosting aid through existing initiatives. The program also gave incentives to companies in specific sectors to retain employees who fall in the lower-income bracket.

Due to the government’s generous and swift reaction to the pandemic, the state of poverty in Jamaica has continuously improved post-pandemic. In the year 2022, the percentage of people active in Jamaica’s labor force has risen. According to Carol Coy of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) as of April 2022, “The overall number of persons in the labor force rose by 24,900 or 1.9% to 1,350,300.” In addition to its renewed workforce, Jamaica anticipates that tourism in the nation for the year 2022 may bring in approximately USD $2.9 billion while drawing up to 2.5 million tourists to the island.

Looking Ahead

The perseverance of the Jamaican citizens and the government has led to a historic turnaround for the nation’s economy post-pandemic. While poverty has long ridden the island, the resiliency of the Jamaican people has brought the nation back from the brink of complete economic collapse. The current state of poverty in Jamaica makes it apparent that the future is more prosperous than ever.

– Austin Hughes
Photo: Flickr

 Abandoned Infants in Pakistan

At just over a month old, Fatima was given away on live television. Fatima is just one of many children orphaned in Pakistan after being abandoned in trashcans and dirty alleyways. Placed in piles of rubbish, these infants are dying by the hundreds every year. On his show, “Amaan Ramzan,” Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain famously gives away cars and other luxury items to families in need. However, the show made world news after giving Fatima and another baby girl to a family who are unable to have children. As he explains, “These children are not a part of garbage, are not a part of trash, so we took these children from the garbage, from the trash and delivered them to the needy people, the needy parents.” Fatima’s new mother, Tanzeem Ud Din, said that she hopes the show will help encourage others to adopt children in need.

While the cause of the trend to abandon children remains unknown, many have their theories. One father who adopted two of these afflicted children and wishes to remain unnamed said, “it could be people not wanting children, women on their own or a couple that did not go through with an abortion.” He says religious belief plays a great roll in this. Many perish in the litter before they can be rescued. The lucky ones make it to orphanages dedicated to helping abandoned children. The father described his visit to the orphanage he adopted from sites of children with fear on their faces, crying because they had been dropped off two days ago when their mother died and their father left to remarry. Many of the children here live without a birth certificate or any paperwork for identification.

While the situation is horrific, many are working on solutions that will help save these children’s lives.

  1. Improvements to legislation: According to Director of the Imkaan Welfare Organization, Tahera Hasan, “Solutions don’t lie with philanthropic institutions and they never will. We are literally a drop in the ocean as far as the larger landscape is concerned.” In 2016, the Upper House of Parliament passed its first-ever bill to help abandoned children. Un-attended Orphans Rehabilitation and Welfare Act was written to protect the rights of orphaned children and ensure housing, education and healthcare.
  2. Decreasing poverty rates throughout Pakistan: According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015–2016, 39 percent of the population lives in poverty. In contrast, the country has a total fertility rate of 2.55, according to the CIA Factbook, putting it at number 76 for world fertility rates. As a comparison, the United States is 142 on this list. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms says poverty reduction is one of the main objectives of Pakistan’s Vision 2025.
  3. Improving adoption services: According to Hasan, “There is no formal structure for adoption in place here, it is not recognized by the state.” Hansan is dedicated to the support of families adopting in Pakistan with the Imkaan Welfare Organization. Adoption remains mainly unregulated in Pakistan, with no paperwork for these children.

Social worker Ramzan Chippa said, “Parents who are adopting babies want healthy babies.” However, many orphaned children are described as severely mentally ill, one father even noticing a boy tied up in his orphanage to prevent him from taking bites out of his own arm. As a result, organizations such as Imkaan Welfare Organization are necessary to help these children become adoptable and find homes to be placed in.

The unnamed adoptive father referred to the child crisis in Pakistan as “unfinished business.” For countless children abandoned in dumpsters and litter, that is what their life is. Until Pakistan can adequately care for the thousands of unwanted children born every year, their existence will seem unfinished as they are homeless, purposeless and without a family.

Maura Byrne
Photo: Flickr

Jakarta
There are over 28 million people in Indonesia considered to be poor according to national standards. The Multidimensional Poverty Index, or MPI, focuses on standards of living and measures 10 indicators of multiple deprivations in a household. The 10 indicators include issues of education and health. To be considered multi-dimensionally poor, a person needs to be deprived in at least three out of the 10 indicators.

In Jakarta, 20.8 percent of the population has multiple deprivation and 12.2 percent is vulnerable to multiple deprivations. The intensity of deprivation means the degree to which the average percentage of the people is in multidimensional poverty. As of 2014, this was 45.9 percent.

The population of Jakarta is 10 million at night and increases to 11.2 million in the day as individuals travel into the city for work. As of 2014, the poverty rate and Gini coefficient ratio, a measurement tool for the gap in income, have increased immensely due to increasing rates of inflation and the weaker rupiah. The result is a higher poverty index.

The poverty index ratio increased to 8.9 percent from eight percent in the previous year. The country average for Indonesia is 8.3 percent. The coefficient ratio has gone from a measurement of .364 in 2013 to .436. The ratio illuminates the income distribution among the city’s population as well as the inequality of the economy.

There has been an increase in the poor population from 3.7 percent in 2013 to 4.9 percent. Based on the population of Jakarta, the number of poor has increased from 371,000 to 412,790. Due to poverty, issues of malnutrition, no proper sanitation, lack of electricity and limited educational opportunities are often issues occurring in tandem.

It is important that proper indicators are used to determine the amount of the population that is poor in order to correctly assess their needs. In the words of Amartya Sen, author of the book, “Development as Freedom,” poverty should be seen “as a deprivation of basic capabilities, rather than merely as low income.”

Currently, the national poverty line is based on monetary measures. These measures, utilized by the Millennium Development Goals to indicate the national poverty line, have assisted in growth and processes that have recently been taken by the Indonesian government. In addition, budgeting and planning resources have been observed.

– Erika Wright

Sources: Jakarta Post 1, Jakarta Post 2, U.N. Habitat
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

latin_america_middle_class
When people are asked to picture Latin America, an image of poverty usually comes to mind. Yet while it is true that Latin America has historically been a region of high rates of poverty and income inequality, income inequality has in fact declined in 13 of 17 countries as measured by the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient is used to determine the level of income inequality in a country wherein a score of 0 is given to countries with complete equality (countries whose citizens have the same income) while a score of 1 is given to perfectly unequal countries (those in which one person owns all the income).

Recent data by the World Bank suggests that there has been a successful push to reduce poverty in the region, with the number of people living in extreme poverty (defined as those living on less than $2.50 a day) halved to 12.3 percent between 2003 and 2012. The largest proportion of the population, at 38 percent, includes those that are most vulnerable to falling back into poverty. This last part includes those making between $4-$10 a day. The middle class in Latin America is growing extremely rapidly at 34.3 percent of the population and is set to overtake the most vulnerable to become the largest segment of Latin America. The middle class is defined as the number of people who earn between $10-$50 a day.

Yet these numbers are a bit misleading. There continues to be a large degree of inequality between Latin Americans of different ethnicities. In Brazil, 76.4 percent of primary school children who are descended from Europeans are enrolled in school, while only 65.3 percent of indigenous or African children are enrolled. Similarly, in Chile 97 percent of families of European descent are enrolled in school, while 74.4 percent of children of indigenous or African descent are enrolled.

This is significant because as the middle class expands, it’s going to be able to expend more money on disposable goods and fuel economic growth. It will also be interesting to see what happens as the middle class demands more of a stake in the political process.

– Jeff Meyer

Sources: World Bank, IARIW
Photo: Not Adam and Steve

Poverty_in_russia
As the adage goes, the poor stay poor while the rich get richer. For years, Russia has been regarded as a nation fraught with economic inequality- a land where the rich accrue more and more wealth each year while the poor descend further and further into squalor. Even in the advent of the burgeoning middle class, the growing disparity of wealth has contributed to a widening economic gap between Russia’s rich and poor residents.

Although an astounding 18 million Russians, or roughly 13 percent of the population, live below the official poverty line, having a collective income of $12.4 billion, the 97 wealthiest Russians jointly own $380 billion- nearly 31 times the collective income of the nation’s poorest individuals.

While $18 million residents grapple with the challenges of poverty, Vladimir Putin consistently vaunts the exclusive wealth of Russia. In a sense, Russia has exhibited economic growth. For instance, Moscow now houses more billionaires than New York City, the iconic American city that has long been esteemed as the metropolis of wealth and power of the Western World.

Although Putin boasts about the economic prosperity of the few wealthy elites, little effective action has been taken to curb the growing rates of poverty in Russia. For example, the estimated cost of living in Russia is approximately $210. However, the nation’s minimum wage is wholly insufficient at $155 per month.

Despite this harrowing fact, it appears that the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, set to be hosted in Sochi, has taken prominence over the rampant poverty in Russia. In 5a Akatsy Street, located in a neighborhood with deteriorating infrastructure, a brand-new multi-million dollar highway brazenly cuts through the surrounding poverty.

The glossy highway stands in salient contrast to the squalor of 5a Akatsy Street, a locale in which residents have barely sustained themselves without running water or a sewage system. While the Russian government sanctions the construction of stadiums and highways, the majority of Sochi residents live in dwindling, contaminated and neglected villages.

However, the juxtaposition of the ostentatious Olympic preparations in Sochi and the prevalence of squalor surrounding the slinky stadiums and magnificent mega-malls highlights a general trend that has been observed in Russian society, a dangerous trend in which in which the poor are vastly overlooked while the most wealthy are needlessly glamorized.

Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: Telegraph, Forbes, TribLive
Photo:
AsiaOne

poverty_india
Last month, when the Indian government claimed that poverty had been cut by a third since 2004, skepticism, public outcry, and heated debate emerged all over the world concerning the latest figures.

How could a country where nearly half of the children under the age of five are chronically malnourished claim to have reduced poverty, many asked.

The fact of the matter is that, according to India’s Planning Commission, extreme poverty fell from 37% to 22% in the past seven years. This leaves the official number of the country’s poor at 269 million out of a population of 1.2 billion.

Instead of rejoicing at the figures, as the world did when China claimed to have reduced the number of its poor by 220 million from 1978 to 2004, many considered the methodology used as an insult to the poor.

The official poverty threshold in India – calculated using the Tendulkar methodology, a forty year-old measurement – is essentially based on the minimum calories consumed by a person.

The problem is that this debatable definition of India’s poor places the poverty line slightly below lowest levels set by the World Bank. There are those earning fewer than 32 rupees (55 cents) in urban areas and 27 rupees (45 cents) in rural areas, incapable of  living at the edge of subsistence. The Tedulkar methodology, based on how much money buys 2,400 calories of food a day, sets the Indian poverty rate at around 10% lower than the World Bank’s rate, equating to roughly 40 million people.

Still, economists like YK Alagh defend the figures. He says that the rapid declines in poverty are mostly due to overall economic growth (8.2% annually in the years 2004-2005 and 2011-2012), an increase in farm growth (3.5% annually), and new jobs.

Others, such as V.K. Srinivasan, chairman of the Indian Institute of Economics, believe that new methods are needed to calculate poverty. He cites the multidimensional poverty index used by the United Nations Development Program as a good example.

“Human development should not be judged in terms of income and expenditure only, but should be done in terms of life expectancy and quality of education,” he said.

Although the debate continues, it is safe to say that at least 1 in 5 Indians still live in extreme poverty. This means that for India, the fight against poverty still has a long road ahead.

– Nayomi Chibana
Sources: Huffington Post, BBC News, The New York Times
Photo: Deutsche Welle,

World Poverty Declines RapidlyOxford University’s poverty and human development initiative published a world poverty report.  As world poverty declines, the report notes that “never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.”  In fact, if some countries continue to improve at current rates, it is possible to eradicate acute poverty within 20 years.

The academic study measured new deprivations, such as nutrition, education, and health. By examining more than income deprivation, the study is able to convey the bigger picture.  The new methodology is entitled to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).  Past studies identify income as the only indicator of poverty.  This is a misrepresentation because multiple aspects constitute poverty.

The MPI measures poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standards, lack of income, disempowerment, poor quality of work, and threats from violence.  These factors provide a holistic look as world poverty declines.

Dr. Sabina Alkire and Dr. Maria Emma Santos developed the new system.   They named the system “multidimensional” because it is what people facing poverty describe.  “As poor people worldwide have said, poverty is more than money,” Alkire said.

This increased information and understanding better inform international donors and governments.  “Maybe we have been overlooking the power of the people themselves, women who are empowering each other, civil society pulling itself up,” Alkire said.  The new data could incentivize donors to provide assistance.  International and national aid contribute to declining rates.  Improvements to infrastructure, education, and healthcare help decrease poverty rates.  Trade has improved the economies of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Rwanda, Nepal, and Bangladesh experienced the greatest decrease in poverty rates.  It is possible that “deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations.”  Close behind in the ranks of poverty reduction were Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Bolivia.

The study is supported by the United Nations’ recent development report.  The UN report stated that poverty reduction was “exceeding all expectations.”

Check out the MPI interactive world map for more details.

– Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: The Guardian