Ecuador’s poverty rate has dropped by 12% since 2006 according to Ecuador’s Ministry of Planning and Development. The ministry also reports that Cuenca has the lowest poverty rate among the country’s municipalities.
According to Pabel Muñoz, planning and development minister, Ecuador’s overall poverty rate has dropped from 37.5% to 25.5% in the past seven years. He adds that the number should continue to drop over the foreseeable future.
Among cities, Cuenca has the lowest poverty rate at 6%, followed by Quito at 8.5% and Guayaquil at 13.75%. The ministry says that the country’s largest cities offer the best employment opportunities while rural areas, particularly on the coast, offer the fewest. The coastal provinces of Esmeraldas, Santa Elena and Manabi have the highest poverty rates.
Muñoz, who says that Ecuador leads all Latin American countries in poverty reduction, says the improvement is the result of a number of factors, including high levels of investment in infrastructure and social services as well as a strong economy.
“Ecuador has the highest public investment rate in Latin America, at 15% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he says. “The investment has been directed to roads, health centers, schools and hospitals and other services.”
Muñoz says that improvements in education are one of the keys to long-term prosperity. “We have made the universalization of education a priority. Every child needs a comprehensive education to strengthen the well being of our society,” he says. “We believe that programs such as the one that provides scholarships to our best students at the world’s top universities will pay big dividends down the road.”
A strong economy is another key to reducing poverty, Muñoz says. “Ecuador’s economy is averaging growth of 4.3% annually compared to 3.4% in Latin America as a whole. This growth will create the jobs that will pull families out of poverty.”
According to Muñoz, Cuenca provides an example to the country for eliminating poverty. “The city has the highest rate of education and is embracing modern technology to build its future.” He said that the city is home to a growing number of data service firms that serve clients around the world, particularly in Europe and the U.S.
Photo caption: Minister of Planning and Development Pabel Muñoz.