142,000 Belizeans Considered Poor
The Country Poverty Assessment will be officially released next week Tuesday - but according to figures that have been leaked to 7News - the portrait it paints is of a country sinking more deeply into poverty. The survey was carried out in over two thousand households in April of 2009. It follows up on the 2002 survey and it clearly demonstrates that in the intervening 7 years, poverty has increased sharply.
142,000 thousand Belizeans, 43% of the population, are considered poor, while 52,000 of those - 16% of the population is considered indigent, or very poor - which means that they can't afford the minimum food basket which is $5.50 per day. Then there is another category, the vulnerable, those who are able to afford daily expenditure just above the
poverty line - which is set at ten dollars. The vulnerable amounts to another 45,000 persons, 14% of the population. Add that to the 43% who are poor and you'll have more than half the population either poor or vulnerable, meaning they are at risk of falling into poverty.
A table cited in the draft report shows that Belize has the highest poverty rate in a sampling of Caribbean countries. In fact, Belize's poverty rate - the report says - is on par with Mexico. And Belize's rising poverty has affected every district, except Toledo. Most worryingly, Corozal's poverty and indigence have both doubled; in fact its poverty level now approaches Toledo's.
And what's the cause of it? Well, the draft report concludes that it is due to a decline in the sugar cane sector and the fact that some areas were very badly affected by the 2008 floods. The report shows that there was a sharp decline overall in agriculture and the fishing industry declined an alarming 37%. Like we said this is just a small sampling of findings and more will be released when the report is launched on Tuesday.http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=16041