Poverty concentrated in rural areas


A study conducted by Young Lives, International on Childhood poverty, discloses that expanding services like education and health, both in urban and rural areas, improves the welfare of children. Still concerns remain over the quality and substantial inequalities that persist between urban and rural areas. The recommendation for this is ‘to address the problem as part of the proposed National Child Policy.’


In his keynote address, during the presentation of the study at the Ghion Hotel a week ago, Almaw Mengistu, State Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs said that the suggestion forwarded in the findings will be included in the National Child Policy.

“We found considerable rural-urban differences in access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and electricity. Access to safe water increased from 11 percent in 2002 to 17 percent in 2009. In 2009, 39 percent of the urban areas and 2.3 percent of the rural areas have access to safe water,” the study elucidates.

According to the paper, poverty has been reduced from its peak in 1996, when 46 percent of people lived below the poverty line to about 39 percent in 2005.

However, urban areas have seen a rise in inequality.

“There has been a very slight rise in inequality at a national level accounted for by rapidly increasing urban inequality, whereas rural inequality is stable,” the study stresses. Ethiopia is the least urbanized country in sub-Saharan Africa. By contrast there is fast growth in major cities notably the capital Addis Ababa, with a parallel increase in urban poverty, slums and street dwellers.

The incidence of economic shocks declined slightly between 2002 and 2006, falling from 58 percent to 52 but had increased substantially by 2009 with 61 percent of households reporting being affected.

When this report was submitted in the presence of the State Minister Almaw Mengistu, the researchers said that many families were affected by unplanned events such as drought, family illness and food price increases. “Between 2006 and 2009, 95 percent of households were affected by economic shocks, particularly food price increases,” the study group said.

The findings suggest that children between the ages of 12 and 15 in rural areas are three times more likely to drop out and more than 90 percent of 8-year olds were involved in paid or unpaid work in 2009. The findings conclude that at the national level, poverty is more concentrated in rural areas than in urban areas.