Hardship and vulnerability remains some of the Pacific Island Countries growing problems and threats stemmed from various issues including Non-Communicable Diseases to natural Disasters.
This was according to research from the World Bank, March 2014.
The report finds that extreme poverty remains rare in the pacific, but that over 20 per cent of people in most countries live in hardship-meaning they are unable to meet all of their basic needs such as food, fuel and medicines.
Evidence was drawn from Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Kiribati, Fiji and Vanuatu.
Pacific Island Countries are some of the world’s most at risk countries to economic and environmental shocks and people face a number of growing threats, from NCDs to natural disasters, according to the report.
It stated that increasingly when these shocks occur, they threaten to push families, and sometimes entire communities, into hardship.
Meanwhile, it further added that people, communities, enterprises and governments are better equipped to pursue productive opportunities and take risks when they are not suffering or vulnerable to hardship.
The report findings include;
• Households headed by less educated people, elderly people, and households with more children, are more likely to live in hardship in all countries covered by the report.
• Women-headed households are more likely to live in hardship in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands, but are less likely in the other countries.
• Levels of inequality in the Pacific are now comparable to those in East Asian countries.
• In all countries studied, the best-off people (the top 20%) consume many times more than the least well-off: the bottom 20 percent of income earners accounts for less than 5 percent total consumption in Papua New Guinea and 7 percent in Vanuatu.
• People in the Pacific are uniquely vulnerable to economic and natural shocks, as a result of countries’ small size, geographical isolation and high exposure to natural disasters.
• Dependence on global commodity markets for a large part of basic needs and incomes leaves households vulnerable to large swings in prices for items like food and fuel.
• A number of risks are increasing vulnerability for Pacific Islanders. As well as environmental challenges, the report highlights the pressing threat of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
• NCDs have already eroded life expectancy in Tonga, and are exceedingly expensive to treat and incur long-term disability costs for many households.
• Family and community networks are central to life in Pacific Island Countries and act as critical “safety nets” for people when shocks occur. However, household surveys show that traditional systems do not always reach everyone: those in deepest hardship may be least likely to be part of gift-giving networks.
• Studies also show that gift-giving may sometimes require greater generosity than many households feel they can truly afford.
The report makes a number of recommendations.
It suggests that Pacific governments have an important role to play in complementing traditional systems with social protection schemes, such as old age pensions and disability payments.
In addition it recommends greater investment in prevention and management of long-term risks such as NCDs and natural disasters, to reduce future burden on households and governments.
The report also highlights the need for sustained efforts across the region to improve data collection, analysis and communication on hardship, and the importance of standardized methodological frameworks for poverty analysis.
The report was written as a companion piece to the 2014 World Development Report on Risk and Opportunity.
It draws on data from Household Income and Expenditure Surveys carried out in the 8 Pacific Island Countries to provide the first comprehensive regional analysis of hardship and vulnerability in a decade.
By STEPHEN DIISANGO