After years of steady decline, the official poverty rate among Latin America and the Caribbean countries appears to be leveling off while extreme poverty level has increased slightly.
The number of poor people in the region reached 167 million last year, of whom 71 million were destitute, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or CEPAL, said in its 2015 Social Panorama of Latin America.
The poverty figure has been at the same level since 2012, but since then the number of destitute persons increased from 11.3 percent to 12 percent in 2014, according to projections of the study.
CEPAL reported that Ecuador, where poverty reduction has shown the most dramatic reduction in recent years, is the exception to the overall trend. The reduction continued in 2014 and 2015, CEPAL said.
The report says that poverty remained stable in the region between 2012-2014, affecting 28.1 percent of the population in both years, while it is estimated that 2015 also ended with around 28 percent, which combined with demographic growth means that some 167 million people were poor.
Meanwhile, extreme poverty and destitution climbed from 11.3 percent in 2012 to 11.7 percent in 2013, which signifies an increase of 3 million to make a total of 69 million people. Projections indicate that 2014 suffered another hike to as much as 12 percent, which indicates that 71 million people were destitute last year.
CEPAL Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena warned during the presentation of the report that recovery from the international financial crisis “doesn’t seem to have been used sufficiently to strengthen policies for a social safety net that would diminish vulnerability to economic cycles.”
“So in a scenario of a possible reduction of the financial resources available, greater efforts are needed to support those policies, laying a sound foundation for fulfilling the commitments of the post-2015 development agenda,” she said.
In Ecuador, the poverty rate has declined from 41.5% to 24.5% since 2004, the largest reduction in the region. Extreme poverty fell from 17.5% to 8.1% during the same period.