Latin America, Caribbean make strides in reducing poverty


Santiago (Chile) : Latin American and Caribbean countries have made significant progress in poverty alleviation with some 25 million people having moved out of poverty, a UN survey has said.

Support TwoCircles

“Poverty fell a lot more than we had estimated,” Jose Luis Machinea, the executive secretary of UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said while releasing the report here Thursday.

Poverty declined 3.3 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2006, Machinea told Spanish news agency EFE after presenting the report titled “Social Panorama for Latin America, 2007”.

He called the achievement significant but also warned against complacency as 194 million inhabitants of the region still remain poor and, of them, 71 million are extremely poor.

In absolute numbers, these figures reveal that last year 15 million people were able to get out of poverty and 10 million out of extreme poverty.

“In all the countries, there were perceptible advances, which in the majority of cases gave continuity to the (poverty alleviation) trend registered last year,” the report says, emphasising that this is the first time since 1990 that the number of poor in Latin America has been calculated to be below 200 million.

According to the Argentine economist, extreme poverty fell 30 percent in four years, “which is a record worthy of emphasis”.

He said that the reduction of poverty in the region is associated “basically with (economic) growth, which has generated much employment, and to social programmes, which have involved greater social spending.”

Between 2002 and 2006, according to the study, Argentina presented “the most important progress”, reducing its poverty index by 24.4 percentage points and its level of indigence by 13.7 percent.

Venezuela was in second place, reducing its poverty and indigence levels by 18.4 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively.

Following the two leaders are Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico, which achieved a reduction in poverty more than 5 percent between 2002 and 2006, the report said. Brazil, meanwhile, cut both its poverty and its indigence levels by 4.2 percent.

“This advance has a significant impact on the regional level, since it implies a reduction of six million in the number of indigent people,” ECLAC said.