210,963 live in poverty

An informal settlement at Samabula in Suva. Picture: FILE/ATU RASEA

The pre-COVID-19 poverty rate in Fiji in 2020 stood at 24.2 per cent, with a total of 210,963 people living in poverty.

This was highlighted in the United Nations (UN) Pacific Socio-Economic Impact Assessment report of COVID-19 in Fiji.

According to the report, the poverty rate stood at 16.76 per cent (73,153 people) in urban areas and at 31.9 per cent (138,737 people) in rural areas which showed a large difference in poverty according to geographic location.

“The poverty gap, defined as the ratio showing the average shortfall of the population from the poverty line, stood at 6.6 per cent nationally, with 4.6 per cent and 8.5 per cent in urban and rural areas, respectively,” the report stated.

The report highlighted that poverty severity, which was a poverty measure sensitive to the income distribution among the poor, stood at 2.7 per cent overall and was also at 2.13 per cent higher in urban areas compared with 3.3 per cent in rural areas.

It stated that exploring demographic differences, children were found to be at higher risk of living in poverty compared with the total population.

“The poverty rate for children (0 to 14 years old) stood at 32.1 per cent, thus, almost eight percentage points higher than overall poverty.

“The rural-urban divide was also prevalent among children, with urban child poverty rates at 22.22 per cent and rural child poverty rates at 40.92 per cent.”

The report also highlighted that when disaggregating poverty rates geographically, the numbers showed the highest poverty rate for the Northern Division at 29 per cent and the lowest for the Central Division at 14 per cent .

“When looking at demographic household characteristics, it can be observed that poverty rates increase with household size, number of children in the household and the household’s dependency ratio.”

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