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Fiji leads the way

Ropate Valemei
Friday, March 14, 2014

FIJI's daily food poverty line is substantially lower than the other Pacific Island countries.

According to the World Bank, this is because it is more urbanised, and food costs tend to shrink in urban areas.

It said the methodological approach to defining both food and basic needs poverty line was similar across the Pacific.

The bank says the definition of a sufficient amount of energy, the group of households used to determine typical food and non-food needs, and the price used to determine the cost of foods and non-food needs, all vary substantially.

According to the World Bank's regional report Hardship and Vulnerability in the Pacific Island Countries, overall wealth also played a role, with a lower share of food costs in total costs an outcome of Fiji's higher average income.

"The incidence of food hardship ranges from 2 per cent of the population in Vanuatu to 27 per cent in Papua New Guinea," the report said.

Using the national food poverty line, the report said 5 per cent or less of the population was living below those lines in Samoa, Vanuatu and Fiji.

"These countries also have relatively high average consumption compared to other countries in the region.

"On the other hand, in the Solomon Island and PNG, where average consumption is relatively low, the percentages of population living below the poverty lines are substantially higher.

"The incidence of total hardship, including food and other basic needs, is higher in most Pacific Island countries."

It said this may be reflected in part on the greater demand for non-food expenses on households in more urbanised countries such as Fiji, where housing, school fees, and other costs were important needs that could not easily be met through traditional methods, and required cash.

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