LAC countries ‘should expand access to public services’

8 Apr 15

Governments across Latin America and the Caribbean should focus on public policies that create jobs and expand access to basic services, according to a World Bank report.

Its Left behind, chronic poverty report said around 130 million people in the region have never known anything but poverty, living on less than $4 a day throughout their lives.

Jorge Familiar, the bank’s vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that poverty existed and persisted because of a lack of appropriate skills and motivation to the lack of basic services such as clean water.

‘In other words, supporting individuals is necessary but not sufficient. An enabling context that provides appropriate services is also crucial.  Therefore, social policies and regional development need to go hand in hand.’

The report said the situation was becoming more unstable as the economic boom that contributed to reduce poverty was decreasing. It noted that regional gross domestic product has slowed, from about 6% in 2010 to an estimated 0.8% in 2014.

Uruguay, Argentina and Chile have the lowest rates of chronic poverty, with rates around 10%, according to the report. At the other extreme, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala have chronic poverty rates significantly higher than the regional average of 21%, ranging from 37% in Nicaragua to 50% in Guatemala.

‘In addition to focusing on access to basic services and good jobs, policies must also take into account the very real social and aspirational barriers facing the chronically poor in Latin America,’ Ana Revenga, senior director for poverty at the World Bank said.

‘If this remains unaddressed, it will be far too easy for the most vulnerable to fall through the cracks of social safety nets, no matter how well-targeted these programmes are.’

  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Cooking Recipes International and Cooking Recipes. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

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