CARACAS, Monday November 20, 2006 | Update
Life expectancy, literacy, nutrition and access to basic utilities have showed no improvement during the last two years (File Photo)
SUHELIS TEJERO PUNTES
Some USD 1 is the daily income of 2,182,900 Venezuelans, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Report 2006.
The document estimated extreme poverty at 8.3 percent, which represents a reduction of almost seven percentage points compared to the previous year, but which still involves a major impact on the population.
UNDP calculated that 7,258,800 Venezuelans live on a daily income of USD 2, and they are also below the poverty line.
UNDP based this survey on statistics provided by official agencies, but it applies a different methodology. The figures disclosed in the Human Development Report 2006 are those of 2005 and, in some cases, of 2004.
More is less
Figures on income-based poverty appear favorable for the Venezuelan Government in the report, but the opposite occurs regarding the Human Poverty Index. The UNDP report in 2005 ranked Venezuela in the 14th position among the developing countries with less poverty rates. But in its latest UNDP survey, Venezuela dropped two positions (to the 16th position), even though the number of poor people drastically fell in 2003-2004.
The reasons behind this performance are stagnating basic indices such as life expectancy at birth, literacy rates, access to clean water and nutrition. These indicators have showed no improvement in the last two years, according to the Human Development Report 2006.
Life expectancy at birth was 40 years for 8.2 percent of population, while illiteracy amounts to 7 percent of the Venezuelan population, even though UNESCO (also a body of the United Nations) recently certified that Venezuela was "free from illiteracy," which implies that less than 2 percent of the population is illiterate.
Meanwhile, 17 percent of the population has no access to clean water and 4 percent of children under five have a weight below the healthy mean weight for their age.
Another major issue in the UNDP report was inequality among social classes, in terms of how much benefit Gross Domestic Product (GDP) brings to the different strata of the population.
In this connection, the UNDP used a GPD of USD 110.1 billion, for a per capita income of USD 6,043. This figure falls short from the highest level ever recorded in Venezuela of USD 8,255, in 1977.
The Gini Index -which measures unbalances in wealth distribution- was 44.1 percent for 2000, the year referenced in the report. In the UNDP Human Development Report 2005, this indicator -which made reference to 1998- was 49.1 percent.
Under this index, the closer to 100 percent, the worse the inequalities in income among the population. Japan, the country with the best performance in wealth distribution, recorded a Gini Index of 24.9 percent, according to the UNDP.
Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.