Poverty

The Arab region witnessed an improvement in its Human Development Index (HDI), an index which combines three dimensions of human development, namely health, education and living standards, from 0.613 in 2000 to 0.686 in 2014, but it remained below the World average of 0.711. In fact, this overall gain hides regional variations; while the HDI reached a value of 0.850 in Qatar in 2014, it registered a low level of 0.470 in Djibouti in 2014.[1] Despite this positive overall trend in human development, poverty remains one of the paramount challenges and major impediments to inclusive development in the region.


Based on the extreme poverty headcount by measuring population whose income is less than USD 1.25 per day, the Arab region comes out as the only region in the world where poverty has increased since 2010.[2] In 2010, 4% of the Arab population was living below the international poverty line of USD 1.25 per day, while 40% were living below USD 2.75 per day.[3] In 2012, the poverty rate at the international poverty line of USD 1.25 per day increased to 7.4%, with the highest rate observed in the Arab least-developed countries (LDCs) at 21.6%.[3] As of October 2015, the extreme poverty line was raised to USD 1.90 a day using 2011 prices.[4] Due to limited data coverage and measurement challenges linked to the irregularity of conducting national household surveys, obtaining an average of “poverty headcount ratio at $1.90 a day” for the region is difficult to attain. Latest available data point to an extreme poverty rate of 22.52% in 2013 in Djibouti, with an increase to 43% when the poverty line of USD 3.10 per day is taken into account.[5]

 

That said, there is also a dearth of updated statistics on incidences of poverty, as measured by national poverty lines, in the region. In Sudan, for example, 46.5% of the population lived below the national poverty line according to latest available data that date back to 2009.[5] In the wake of Arab social upheavals, political instability, and humanitarian crisis, data on poverty is much needed to design evidence-based policies and direct humanitarian assistance.


The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)[8] launched in 2010 by UNDP and Oxford Human Development Initiative focuses on estimating multi-dimensional poverty using micro data from household surveys from around the world. Despite the high diversity in terms of multidimensional poverty across the region, it was recorded that 53 million people, around 18.2% of the population in the region, lived in multidimensional poverty in 2015.[6] An estimated 81.2% of Somalis, were considered poor across multiple dimensions in 2006, while in Tunisia 1.2% of the population lived in multidimensional poverty in 2012.[7] 

 

This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 30 September 2016. 

 


  1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2015. Human Development Reports
  2. United Nations and League of Arab States, 2013 “Millennium Development Goals Summary Report: Facing challenges and looking beyond 2015
  3. Sarangi et al., 2015. “Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) Issues Brief for the Arab Sustainable Development Report: Economic growth, inequality and poverty in the Arab region”, ESCWA.
  4. The World Bank
  5. World Development Indicators, The World Bank
  6. ADP Team calculations based on figures extracted from the UNDP Human Development Reports. Data is available for 14 out of 22 Arab countries.
  7. Data on Multidimensional Poverty Index in developing countries
  8. Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) identifies deprivations across three different dimensions, namely, income, health and education and shows the number of people who are multi-dimensionally poor (suffering deprivations in 33% or more of weighted indicators) and the number of deprivations with which poor households typically contend with.


Poverty Statistical Snapshot 2016
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Data Highlighted

  • Based on the extreme poverty headcount by measuring population whose income is less than USD 1.25 per day, the Arab region comes out as the only region in the world where poverty has increased since 2010. In 2010, 4% of the Arab population was living below the international poverty line of USD 1.25 per day, while 40% were living below USD 2.75 per day.

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