Wednesday, February 04, 2009

28 percent of Lebanese live in poverty

A new report compiled by the United Nations Development Program gives us a lot of statistics on poverty in Lebanon.

The study finds that 28 percent of Lebanese people live in poverty while 8 percent live in extreme poverty. That translates to 300,000 who are unable to meet their basic food needs.

The Daily Star of Lebanon had writer Marion Saab break down the numbers.

The reports revealed that the bulk of poverty is concentrated in four areas across Lebanon: Tripoli, Akkar, Minieh-Dennieh, Jezzine, Saida, and Hermel, Baalbek. These regions account for half of the entire poor population while only contributing to one third of the population.

Geographic distribution of poverty is also an issue of concern, as substantial disparities have been identified as existing between the peripheral and central regions of the country. Poverty rates are comparatively insignificant in the capital, with Beirut below 6 percent, while the North constitutes 53 percent of overall poverty, the Bekaa 29 percent, the South 22 percent and 20 percent poverty rates in Nabatieh and Mouth Lebanon.

According to the study, poverty impacts some vocations more than others. The poor are concentrated among the unemployed and skilled workers, in sectors such as agriculture and construction. Findings suggest that youth with a university degree are also struggling to break the poverty cycle, as the unemployment rate for non-poor university graduates holding a secondary degree is half of the rate for extremely poor university graduates.

The report highlights the inequal distribution of expenditure among the population, with the poorer 20 percent of the population accounting for only 7 percent of all consumption in Lebanon while the richest 20 percent accounting for 43 percent. Expenditure levels in the northern districts are alarmingly far below the poverty line. Studies showed that households in the north with a similar set of characteristics to households in Beirut are four times more likely to be poor. The northern regions have experienced the most significant decline in expenditure over the last 10 years, while Beirut, the South and Bekaa regions recorded improvements in their expenditure.

The report found that it would cost $12 per Lebanese person per annum to lift all poor individuals out of extreme poverty. Economist Hamadan stated that while the government does have the means to deliver, bad targets and misinformation prevent any such expenditure from effectively relieving suffering in problem areas.

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