Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Poverty In Iraq Soars With Economic Crisis

(Prashant Rao)

As the economic crisis hits Iraq not only is unemployment increasing, but poverty is soaring. In May the Planning Ministry announced that poverty had gone from 23% in 2019 to 40% in 2020. That was the highest percentage since 2007 when the country was in the midst of the civil war. The ministry blamed the oil crisis that has drastically cut government revenues in a state run economy and lack of progress in development projects. It said that 6,000 projects hadn’t gotten final payments since 2014, and many more were on hold since as far back as 2008. Iraq doesn’t commit much of its budget to investment and has always had problems finishing them due to red tape and corruption.

Poverty is concentrated in southern Iraq. Before the new figures were released Muthanna, Diwaniya, Maysan, and Dhi Qar suffered poverty rates at 40% or higher. In comparison, Dohuk, Kirkuk, Irbil, and Sulaymaniya were in single digits. This is because many provinces in the south are underdeveloped and have been neglected by the central government.

Pre-2020 Poverty Rates By Province
Muthanna 52%
Diwaniya 48%
Maysan 45%
Dhi Qar 44%
Ninewa 37.7%
Diyala 22.5%
Wasit 19%
Salahaddin 18%
Anbar 17%
Basra 16%
Najaf 12.5%
Karbala 12%
Babil 11%
Baghdad 10%
Dohuk 8.5%
Kirkuk 7.6%
Irbil 6.7%
Sulaymaniya 4.5%


Bas News, “Iraq Poverty Rate Expected to Rise to 40% in 2020: UN Envoy,” 5/14/20

Cave, Damien, “Oxfam Reports Growing Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq,” New York Times, 7/31/07

Al Forat, “Officially … Planning Minister reveals the poverty rate in Iraq and expects the fate of the 2020 budget,” 5/18/20

Ministry of Planning, “The Ministry of Planning, announces the decline in poverty rates in Iraq,” Facebook, 2/16/20

New Sabah, “Minister of Planning: 10 million Iraqis need government financial intervention, the poverty rate is 20%,” 5/5/20

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