Determining the level of poverty To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
March 2, 2002

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ON almost all of his programmes, Mr. C.N. Sharma, the owner of Channel 12, continues to make the outrageous allegation of the extent of poverty, which exists in Guyana.

But, an analysis of the level of poverty, which exists in Guyana, would not reveal that considerable amount the leader of the Justice For All Party, would like us to believe.

What’s more, I would like to know what methodology he is using to determine the poverty level he is referring to. I am simply tired of hearing him talk about poverty on the increase without first conducting empirical data analysis or surveys to arrive at his conclusion.

There are at least three different ways of measuring the level of poverty which exists in an area, region or country: - The Head Count Approach that deals with the standard of living measured by individual household expenditures per capital. The World Bank uses this Head Count method; Human Development Indicator which is the measurement of human development. This is calculated by using three dimensions of human development, knowledge, income and longevity. This measure is used mainly by the United Nations to measure poverty; and Integrated Poverty Index or the Basic Needs and Global Indicator, this is measured by the degree of access by the population of five basic aspects of social development. These are health, education, nutrition, sanitation and economic research.

After setting down your hypothesis, one has to look at the sample size one wishes to analyse. The next step is to determine what method of sampling is best suited for this type of study. (Consideration must be given to this sample, which should reflect a true representation of the population under study).

Mr. Sharma, what method did you use to determine the level of poverty which exists in Guyana? What is your sample size?

For the record, 43 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. Twenty-nine per cent of the 43 per cent are living under extreme poverty. (1999 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper).

As compared to the rest of the world, Guyana’s poverty rate is not as extreme as you make it out to be.

Further, your method of dealing with the problem of poverty is micro. You may think that you are helping persons by sharing out small amounts of food and clothing but in actuality you are making them dependant on you and your services.

The best method is to make persons self-sufficient where they are able to rely on themselves. This is what the Government is doing by addressing the wider picture, that is, they are looking at macro economic measures to reduce the poverty rate.

For example, the Minister of Health has opened a number of health services throughout the country.

The Ministry of Education has opened schools in the interior areas thus helping lots of persons who had to travel for miles to receive a decent education.

Access to economic resources, such as new housing schemes and loans are easier to receive. Persons can now own their own homes through easier access to financial resources negotiated for them by the Government.

I can go on and on but I will leave the rest to your imagination.

My dear Sharma, access to basis human resources is one way of determining the level of poverty.

Sabrina London.