Bhutan had almost elim­i­nated poverty to un­der two per­cent by 2012 amount­ing to end­ing ex­treme poverty in 22 years

Bhutan Times - - Home - Sonam Pen­jor

Bhutan’s poverty re­duc­tion has been rapid, broad-based, and in­clu­sive. Be­tween 2007 and 2012, the per­cent­age of con­sump­tion poor halved to 12 per­cent. Bhutan has nearly ended ex­treme poverty within the liv­ing mem­ory of gen­er­a­tion; ex­treme poverty touched a low of two per­cent in 2012. The broader mul­ti­di­men­sional poverty in­dices, that in­cludes ed­u­ca­tion and health out­comes be­sides stan­dard of liv­ing, also in­di­cate a steep de­cline in the per­cent­age of de­prived pop­u­la­tion by two third, from about 25 per­cent to 12.7 per­cent.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bhutan poverty as­sess­ment re­port 2014, Bhutan has achieved rapid re­duc­tion in poverty in the last decade. By mea­sure of the in­ter­na­tional norm of US $ 1.25 per day for ex­treme poverty, Bhutan had almost elim­i­nated poverty to un­der two per­cent by 2012 amount­ing to end­ing ex­treme poverty in 22 years. And Bhutan stands out for the pace of its poverty re­duc­tion com­pared to other South Asian coun­tries and the se­lect co­hort of coun­tries with sim­i­lar ini­tial poverty lev­els in 1990.

Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Na­tional Sta­tis­ti­cal Bureau ( NBB) Kuenga Tsh­er­ing said, this par­tic­u­lar re­port iden­ti­fies the key driv­ers of rapid poverty re­duc­tion in Bhutan over the re­cent years, ex­plain­ing why some Dzongkhags are stuck in poverty or re­duc­ing poverty is not sig­nif­i­cant while oth­ers pros­pered, and he said the main driv­ers of pros­per­ity in ru­ral Bhutan ap­pear to be in­creas­ing com­mer­cial­iza­tion of agri­cul­ture, an ex­pand­ing ru­ral road net­work and ben­e­fi­cial spillovers from hy­dro­elec­tric projects.

One of the fac­tors con­tribut­ing to poverty re­duc­tion is due to the noble Royal Kidu pro­gram where many land­less house­holds were able to get land per­ma­nently regis­tered in their names, he added.

How­ever, not all the Dzongkhags are out of the poverty line, the re­ports states that, the risk of fall­ing back into the poverty is great­est for Bhutanese in ru­ral ar­eas, those hold­ing in­for­mal jobs, with low ed­u­ca­tion, and res­i­dent es­pe­cially in Pema­gat­shel, Trashigang or Da­gana.

More­over, the Dzongkhags that ex­pe­ri­enced rapid poverty re­duc­tion are Zhem­gang and Lhuentse while the Dzongkhags like Da­gana and Pema­gat­shel ex­pe­ri­enced slow poverty re­duc­tion, the as­sess­ment re­port states.

While, the poverty re­duc­tion has been un­even across the Dzongkhags that poverty rates in Pema­gat­shel Dzongkhag and Tsir­ang re­main the same in 2012 as of 2007 and Da­gana , the growth was slower in Da­gana and Lhuentse but ini­tially the very poor Dzongkhags of Mon­gar, Zhem­gang and Samtse has been much faster, states the re­port.

Thirty per­cent of Bhu- tanese house­holds are headed by fe­males, but in terms of con­sump­tion or mul­ti­di­men­sional poverty rates was found to be equal for both male and fe­male headed house­hold, the re­port states.

Ly­onch­hen Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay dur­ing the launch of the as­sess­ment re­port said that re­duc­ing poverty rates from a high of 25% just six years ago to 12% now is a suc­cess by any mea­sure. That suc­cess is be­cause of our so­cial de­vel­op­ment pol­icy. Ed­u­ca­tion is free and wide­spread, health­care is free and ac­cess in the form of farm roads and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem.

Ly­onch­hen added that, in a span of five years, we have re­duced poverty from 25% to 12% but the re­al­ity is that, 12% is still poor. One out of ev­ery eight Bhutanese is still poor; one out of ev­ery eight Bhutanese has ac­cess to in­come which is less than Nu.1704 a month and one out of ev­ery eight Bhutanese go to bed hun­gry.

So, to­day as we launch this very im­por­tant poverty as­sess­ment re­port, we must com­mit to fight­ing this scourge, re­duc­ing the num­bers and not just see­ing them as num­bers, as 12% of peo­ple who are poor and 12.7% who are sub­jected multi-di­men­sion­ally. We must not just see the num­bers, we must go beyond the num­bers and see the faces of our brothers, sis­ters and of our chil­dren who have to live with poverty and who have to fight with poverty ev­ery day, said the Ly­onch­hen.

Ly­onch­hen fur­ther said that, the gov­ern­ment will be soon send­ing peo­ple to each and ev­ery one of those houses to es­tab­lish what level of poverty that they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and they need im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion. Ly­onch­hen added, we need to know who among our fel­low Bhutanese are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­treme poverty and they need ur­gent at­ten­tion. But above and beyond that, we need to know what level and type of poverty each and ev­ery one of those house­holds that are iden­ti­fied as poor are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. Then, for each and ev­ery one of those house­holds, we need to come up with a spe­cial pack­age to re­move them from poverty.

Res­i­dent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive World Bank, Genevieve Boyreau said poverty re­duc­tion in Bhutan, as the re­port finds, has been rapid, broad-based and in­clu­sive. Pros­per­ity has been shared well in Bhutan with the bot­tom 40 per­cent en­joy­ing faster growth than the rest.

Mean­while, Ly­onch­hen has launched the Bhutan Poverty As­sess­ment Re­port 2014 on 11th Septem­ber, which was jointly com­plied by the na­tional statis­tics bureau (NSB) and World Bank

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