Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Poverty getting worse in Côte d’Ivoire

Cote d'Ivoire has had a conflict for the last six years. The war has plunged more people into poverty. The IRIN has results of a survey that has more statistics on the once prosperous country.

Slightly under half of Côte d’Ivoire’s 20 million people are now below the poverty threshold, living on less than about US$1.25 per day - up from 38.4 percent in 2000 and the highest in 20 years, according to results released by the national statistics institute (INS) on 27 November.

The study surveyed 12,600 households to measure poverty and the conflict’s impact on households, according to INS. “Poverty in Côte d’Ivoire is becoming increasingly worrying,” Nouhoun Coulibaly, head of the INS, told reporters at the release of the results.

INS says 70 percent of Ivoirians have difficulty eating adequately and 68 percent cannot afford proper treatment when ill.

The study is done in part as backing for Côte d’Ivoire’s poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) - a document that describes a country’s macroeconomic, structural and social policies and programmes to promote growth and reduce poverty, as well as associated external financing needs and sources of financing. Côte d’Ivoire - once West Africa’s most stable and prosperous country - is finalising its first PRSP after the 2002 rebellion split the country in two.

The INS study showed that the worst-hit areas are the centre, north and northwest, as well as parts of the capital Abidjan. In the north the level of poverty reaches 77 percent, according to INS.

“The state is creating thieves, prostitutes and liars,” said a would-be university student in Séguéla, who preferred anonymity. Tensions following recent clashes between rebel factions in the city are making people afraid to complain publicly about their situation, residents told IRIN. As in other parts of Côte d’Ivoire violent crime is soaring in Séguéla, where it used to be largely unheard of, she said, as people turn to stealing, cheating and selling their bodies to get by.

“When a person has absolutely nothing to eat and no money, what do you want them to do?”

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