The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Middle East and North Africa
  3. Iraq

Over 20 percent of Iraqis live below the poverty line

Baghdad’s rubbish dump is rapidly becoming a source of income for internally displaced persons, 1 December 2004. Twenty years of village clearances, Arabisation campaigns in ethnically mixed areas and a Kurdish civil war have forced about 800,000 people
(IRIN)

Some 20-25 percent of Iraq’s estimated 27 million population lives below the country’s poverty line, a government survey released on 21 May has found. Though wide disparities were found between northern and southern provinces, the government said the results were better than expected.



“Poverty is concentrated in the Iraqi rural areas more than in the urban areas in all provinces,” said the survey, which was conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation.



It found that the highest poverty rate was in the southern province of Muthana with 49 percent, followed by the central provinces of Babil with 41 percent and Salaheddin with 40 percent.



The lowest poverty rates were in the three northern provinces that make up Iraq’s self-ruled Kurdistan Region: Dahouk, with 10 percent living below the poverty line, and Erbil and Sulaimaniyah with 3 percent each.



The survey defines poverty as living on 76,896 Iraqi dinars (about $66) a month, or $2.2 a day.



Better than expected



Abdul-Zahra al-Hindawi, spokesman for the planning ministry's Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology, blamed unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure and corruption as the causes for the high poverty rates - but thought the rates would have been even higher.



“We expected to find higher rates of poverty for many reasons but we found that the state-run food programme has a big role in assisting poor people," al-Hindawi told IRIN.



He added that a supreme governmental committee, made up of lawmakers and representatives of different ministries, is drawing up a strategy to alleviate poverty in the country. This 2010-2014 anti-poverty strategy will be released in the second half of 2009, he said.



“We are certain that poverty rates will be reduced in the coming few years if a big role is given to Iraq’s private sector in economic development,” al-Hindawi said.



Iraq's food rationing system, known as the Public Distribution System, was set up in 1995 as part of the UN’s oil-for-food programme following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait 17 years ago. However, it has been crumbling since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 due to insecurity, poor management and corruption.



sm/ar/ed


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join