Sunday, October 20, 2019

Causes of Poverty in Mauritius

Causes of Poverty in Mauritius Over the past two decades, Mauritius has continuously experienced considerable improvements in both social and economic levels. Mauritius is ranked as an upper middle income country since 2003, with a GDP per capita of $4000. Substantial improvement in life expectancy and literacy, Mauritius has shifted from medium to a high human development country during same period. This is evidenced by the latest UN Human Development Indices: Mauritius is ranked 81 (182 countries) in 2007, with an HDI value of 0.804. Challenge Despite these considerable improvements, poverty does exist in Mauritius. Rapid modernization and industrialization has lead to income inequality in the population, leading to an increase in number of pockets of poverty. This is a common phenomenon experienced by most developing countries. Governments or organizations have to reconsider their policies to decrease the level of income inequality in order to eradicate the problem of poverty. Meeting the challenge In Mauritiu s, government has implemented several social welfare programmes to bridge the gap between poor and non-poor. This include the distribution of social aid to needy people, subsidies on basic food item, ZEP programme in schools to enhance level of education, micro-financing to small and medium enterprises, female empowerment in labor market . In the 2008/09 National Budget, the Government provided Rs 395 million for the setting up of the of the Eradication of Absolute Poverty (EAP) Programme, an integrated development project which targets the households in the 229 pockets of poverty. In 2009, the Government has set up the National Empowerment Fund as an institutional framework to strengthen the role of various policy programmes such as the Empowerment Programme, EAP, Decentralised Cooperation Programme (DCP), etc. Despite the government policies, reforms and actions, poverty is still persistent in Mauritius. Poverty perceptions Poverty is a complex issue and multifaceted. This has alw ays been of concern for everybody. Many studies and policy programmes have been put forward to assess poverty situation in the country and also to target the poor. It is worth noting that the proportion of people living below $1.25 per day, international poverty line, is almost negligible in the country. In contrast, past studies have shown that there are people living in severe poverty. The Relative Development Index for administrative regions, Municipal Wards and Village Council Areas (Central Statistics Office, 2000) identified the least developed regions in the country. The Trust Fund of Social Integration for Vulnerable Groups (set up in 2001) identified 229 pockets of poverty. The qualitative study conducted by DCP pointed out that there were people struggling for basic food. As a matter concern poverty has even been linked to a particular ethnic group that is, poverty perceived as ‘malaise creole’. These perceptions of poverty are evidence that people show their concern and this concern has accentuated the need for good measurement. Objective of study The complexity and sensitivity of poverty has accentuated the interest of people in targeting the poor and assessing poverty. Debates, focus group discussions and studies regarding poverty alleviation are still going on. Researchers are looking for new measurement and approaches to assess poverty in the country. Policy makers are looking for high quality inputs to formulate targeted strategies and programmes.

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