The nation of Vanuatu is made up of a loose cluster of islands in the South Pacific. While the Vanuatu poverty rate of 12.7 percent is not nearly as severe as other Pacific countries, Vanuatu still recognizes poverty as an important issue. The latest poverty reports reveal Vanuatu’s low poverty percentiles as well as highlight the defining characteristics of the remaining people living in poverty.
Since 2006, the prevalence of food poverty across Vanuatu has been cut by over 50 percent. As little as 3.2 percent of people are now subject to food poverty. Increased intake of household produced food and high economic growth are responsible for this reduction. Only 3 percent of Vanuatu’s population is vulnerable to becoming poor. There have been slight increases in rural areas, but these numbers are not large enough to pose a threat. The severity of poverty in Vanuatu remains low as well. A 2.9 percent increase in household incomes for those living below standard lines would lift the remaining population out of poverty.
Who Are the Poor?
The Vanuatu Hardship & Poverty Report categorizes four common trends among Vanuatu’s poor:
- Female-headed households are most commonly connected to poverty.
- Poverty is significantly higher among people with low levels of education.
- People over 60 years old are more vulnerable to poverty.
- Multidimensional human poverty is higher and more severe in rural areas.
Of all the threats to development in Vanuatu, natural disasters take the lead. According to the 2016 U.N. University World Risk Report, Vanuatu is the world’s most at-risk country for natural hazards. Located along the Ring of Fire, climate threats have become normal to the Vanuatu population. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones are among the many dangers. Vanuatu currently has a disaster risk reduction policy, but receives little funding for climate change and disaster risk reduction. With harsh weather patterns and natural disasters expected to increase, it is essential that Vanuatu demonstrates strong financial management to protect its most vulnerable people and keep the Vanuatu poverty rate low.
– Emilee Wessel