National goal 1. Improve living standards and reduce malnutrition
Target 1: Reduce Poverty by half by 2015
Poverty is a complex problem. It has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and is described in many ways. Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape. Thus, poverty is a call to action - for the poor and the wealthy alike - a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities. To reduce poverty and identify the best mechanisms to monitor the change, we need to define and be able to measure it. As poverty is a complex problem, at least several indicators need to be considered that affect human development.
- The 2002 Demographic and Health Survey reports that overall underweight status among young children, has decreased from 18 per cent in 1996 to 8 per cent in 2002 in Uzbekistan.
- A recent survey revealed that “income-poor” in Uzbekistan can be “asset rich”, as,for example, over 98 per cent of the population owns a house or flat, 86 per cent have plots of land, 87 per cent have a TV set, 38 per cent have a refrigerator and 12 per cent have a car.
- For Uzbek families with an average size of five persons, an income per month of US$ 250 will make them better off than a single person having to live on $50 per month, because of economies of scale in consumption. Economies of scale mean sharing expenditures on housing, utilities, and so forth.
Global Poverty Measurement
In order to estimate poverty world-wide, the same reference poverty line is used internationally.
Living on less than $1 per day PPP (where PPP measures the relative purchasing power of currencies across countries) is defined as living in extreme economic poverty.
For Central Asian countries, the World Bank proposed that poverty line at $2.15/day PPP is more appropriate, given that the climate in the region necessitates additional expenditure on heating fuel, winter clothing and food.
Many countries identify their own poverty lines based on the country context and development situation
What is being done to improve living standards in Uzbekistan ?
The major achievement for Uzbekistan in addressing the issues of human development is Government's official recognition that poverty is widespread in the country. A number of actions have been undertaken by Government with close collaboration of development donors to analyze the poverty situation and implement pro-poor policies.
In 2004 Uzbekistan formulated its first ever strategy to improve living standards (i-WISP). The UN and the ADB have joined hands and used the nationalized MDGs and targets to provide an overall framework and vision for the Living Standards Strategy.
Main trends and concentration of poverty
The main data on poverty in Uzbekistan derives from the 2001 Household Budget Survey. Based on the 2,100 calories poverty line, 27.5% of Uzbekistan 's population (6.8 million people) can be classified as poor in 2001. The Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy aims to reduce the poverty rate to 20% by 2010. The Government also estimates that by 2015 the percentage of poor population can be reduced to 14%.
As in many developing states, the most vulnerable groups in terms of poverty are rural inhabitants, families with many children, the disabled, the unemployed, people with lower level of education and households with women breadwinners.
Even though income level is a major determinant of poverty, it is not the only one. Being poor in today's Uzbekistan is connected with a low level of living standards, directly related to the quality of access to health care, education services, basic public utilities, such as clean water and adequate sanitation. The reduction of poverty, therefore, is a complex task which is closely related to the achievement of all other MDGs.
Main poverty factors identified in the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy are:
- Demographic indicators
- Employment and labor market
- Access to education and health services
- Environmental issues
Tracking poverty by demographic indicators helps us define better who the poor are and where they live. As is shown in the table, Uzbekistan 's poor households are concentrated in rural and remote areas. About 70% of the whole population lives in rural areas and 30.5% of the poor are there, as compared to 22.5% in urban areas. The highest concentration of poor households is noted in the southern and northern regions of the republic, and the lowest is in Tashkent region and certain oblasts of the central region. In the southern region, the poverty rate is almost 4 times higher than in Tashkent region.
A common characteristic of poor families is that the head of household is unemployed and there are many children. However, even employment does not always guarantee protection from poverty, as 50% of the poor families have an employed household head. However, being unemployed sharply increases the potential for poverty.
Level of education is another good determinant of poverty risk – the higher the education, the lower the poverty possibility. Among households headed by persons with secondary special vocational education, the probability of becoming poor is 50% that of households where heads of the family do not have such education. The most vulnerable are the families where the heads do not have any secondary education.
In 2003, women accounted for 56% of the registered unemployed (61% in 2002) . Pregnant women, those with many children or with disabilities are at a serious disadvantage.
One of the most dangerous poverty manifestations is malnutrition among children. It represents a threat to health, as well as restricting opportunities to normal growth and development.
Survey results from 1996 suggested that 31% of children under three year of age were malnourished, whereas survey results from 2002 put the estimate at 23%. Moreover, currently 20% of children under-five years are estimated to be malnourished. Malnutrition incidence tends to be higher in rural areas. Karakalpakstan is the most vulnerable to the incidences of anemia and tuberculosis and malnutrition is soaring in Namangan and Surkhandarya viloyats.
61% of children under 3 are reported to suffer from iron deficiency anemia, at a time of rapid periods of growth. Uzbekistan has the highest anemia rates among children and women in reproductive age in the region. Anemia is found in 60% of women in 15-49 age group nationwide, and as a result children whose mothers are anemic are twice as likely to be anemic. Hence, these serious problems are being resolved but still remain significant.
Maternal knowledge and awareness are among important factors that affects child nutrition and disease. Poor trends are closely correlated with low education of mothers. In addition, inadequate dietary intake is closely related to incomes and access to health care services, especially in rural areas.
A number of government social programs for the eradication of anemia, vitamin A and iron deficiency have been developed to protect the nutritional status of children and the population to reduce the impact of an unbalanced and insufficient diet among the poor.
Government's Welfare Improvement Strategy (2005-2010) identifies main economic and social causes of poverty as follows:
- Demographic trends
- Employment and labor market
- Education and health care services
- Regional disparities
The Government is in the process of implementing the strategies that address the above issues in view of achieving tangible improvements in improving living standards in Uzbekistan by 2010. Based on the evidence, rural development deserves the greatest attention from Government and development donors.top