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Urban Poverty in Argentina: The Struggle for Big City Survival

Urban Poverty in ArgentinaArgentina has struggled economically for decades. While the entire nation suffers during times of crisis, urban poverty has become a prominent facet of the nation’s dwindling economy. Urban poverty in Argentina has been growing, and its effects go beyond financial hardships. Poverty entails multiple dimensions of deprivation, including poor access to food, health services, basic amenities, housing, a clean environment and education.

The Dimensions of Urban Poverty

The extent of urban poverty in Argentina has had devastating effects. During the first semester of 2020, millions of city dwellers were burdened by poverty levels. The impact is widespread, with almost 12 million Argentines living below the national poverty level, constituting 40.9% of the urban population. Additionally, 3 million people live below the extreme poverty level, representing 10.5% of the urban population. This marked the most significant rise in urban poverty since 2016. While the impact is felt across various age groups, there is an unequal distribution of its effects. The age group between 15 and 29 experienced the most pronounced increase in poverty. Notably, the highest concentration of urban poverty is in children between 0 to 14.

A Multifaceted Lack of Access

Alarming statistics from 2021 reveal that 26% of urban Argentinians struggle to access adequate food and health services, while 28% lack basic amenities like running water and electricity. Housing conditions exacerbate the issue, with 21% enduring insecure living arrangements and limited access to health care. Environmental factors further compound the hardships, as 26.5% live in polluted surroundings. Education for adults and youths, a crucial pathway out of poverty, remains a concern, with 31.5% lacking suitable opportunities.

Furthermore, a 2016 national exam showed that students from urban primary schools scored lower on average than rural establishments in both language and math.

Labor Market

Underdeveloped neighborhoods and those who live in these communities have also been experiencing a harsh labor market with a growing presence of impoverished workers, as half of the urban workforce is grappling with labor-related challenges. These workers receive a monthly income 30% lower than the average employed worker. The Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (UCA) published a report on national employment from 2003 to 2022, showing disheartening results. The report highlights the alarming dominance of unregulated and informal jobs in urban Argentina. A shocking 43.8% of the urban labor force worked in the informal sector in 2022. Argentinian urban poverty leaves millions working in an industry without social protection and with income instability and exploitative working conditions.

Fundación Si

While urban poverty in Argentina is a damming issue, some people work tirelessly to improve these people’s livelihoods. Fundación Si Argentina is an NGO founded in 2012 that specializes in tackling poverty nationwide. Its focus is to improve the quality of life and chances of social inclusion for those in vulnerable economic positions. The NGO has projects regarding youth housing, homelessness, community development and natural disasters. 

Fundación Si Argentina offers housing and financial aid for underprivileged graduates to promote access to education. It also performs nightly trips to provide food, medical attention and emotional support to the nation’s homeless. Community involvement is prevalent, as programs give the young and underprivileged a sense of togetherness, solidarity and social responsibility while also creating a nurturing space for expression and belonging. Moreover, the organization swiftly provides aid as it collects donations and plays its role in rebuilding affected communities when natural disasters occur. 

The organization´s Argentinian altruism has had an impressive impact. Fundación Si Argentina has over 3,000 volunteers across the country who address the realities of urban poverty. There are 520 students living in Fundación Si Argentina’s student housing centers, 1,147 people are supported on a nightly basis, more than 2,100 kids participate in its weekly programs and more than 400 food shelters are supported. Numerous Argentinians are getting consistent aid due to the tremendous work of this organization. 

Looking Ahead

Urban poverty in Argentina is a pressing issue that hinders the quality of life of millions of people. The struggle to access essential resources like food, health care, housing and education is compounded by an arduous labor market, leaving these people in a state of vulnerability. Nevertheless, efforts like those of Fundación Si Argentina provide a glimmer of hope. Individuals are working tirelessly to remedy these harsh realities and enable citizens to achieve improved standards of living.

– Agustín Pino
Photo: Unsplash