18 February 2007 From a thriving middle income economy in the 1970's and 1980's, one third of today's Iraqi population lives in poverty with more than 5 per cent living in extreme poverty, a new United Nations-backed study says.
Prepared by the Iraqi Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology with the support of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the statistics show that a high percentage of people in Iraq live under various levels of poverty and human deprivation despite the country's huge economic and natural resources.
The policies applied to transform the Iraqi economy to a free market, such as the lifting of subsidies and the dismantling of state instruments, are exacerbating deprivation levels, UNDP said.
The study also highlights significant variations in living standards across the country, with the southern region in Iraq showing the highest level of deprivation, followed by the centre and then the north. Rural areas show three times higher levels of deprivation than urban areas, with the Baghdad area being the best in the country.
“This study will be an important addition to the toolkit of policy makers, development planners and practitioners” said UNDP Iraq Director Paolo Lembo.
“We will use the study's findings to better target projects such as those for rapid job creation,” said Dr Mehdi Al-Alak, Chairman of the statistics organization.