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Fiji Time: 6:21 AM on Sunday 20 April

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35pc in poverty

Sheenal Sharma
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

THIRTY-five per cent of the population in Fiji are living in poverty.

The statistics was provided by permanent secretary for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Govind Sami.

Speaking in a seminar The Challenges of Poverty to the Constitution held at the University of the South Pacific last week, Mr Sami said poverty had increased in rural areas but decreased in urban areas.

"Poverty remains high...at 35 per cent of the population," Mr Sami said.

"Incidents of rural poverty are 43 per cent and urban poverty are 18 per cent.

"The overall poverty reduction is regionally driven while urban poverty has declined significantly, rural poverty remains virtually unchanged," he said.

Mr Sami said the Northern Division had the highest rate of poverty while the Central Division had the lowest.

"The Northern Division which corresponds to the island of Vanua Levu, is quite homogenous recording 53 per cent poverty across the division," he said.

Mr Sami said increase in rural poverty was attributed to decline in relevance of the agricultural sector.

"Highest rate of poverty is among agricultural workers and the largest is among construction, tourism and finance workers," he said.

Mr Sami said households with children and elderly were significantly poor.

"Poverty increases with household size with the number of children and elderly."

He said higher poverty rate for these groups remained an important concern in the country.

Mr Sami said there was also a strong link between low education and poverty.

"Those with no formal education contributed to 47 per cent of the poverty rate while those with secondary level education contributed to 10 per cent of the poverty rate," he said.

He added the Fiji government remained committed to reducing poverty to a negligible level by 2015.