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Poverty increased and now, what do we do?

Last week the latest INEI report presented the new monetary poverty figures. The projections that some experts had been making were confirmed. For 2020, there was an increase of 9.9 percentage points, with which more than three million Peruvians returned to a condition of poverty.

As a result, currently 30.1% of the population is in a situation of poverty, with the coast and urban area being the most affected. This implies a photo similar to 2010, where the figure reached 30.8%.

The decline is due, primarily, to the health emergency. As we know, the government took measures to curb the rate of COVID-19 infection such as mandatory quarantine and curfew. This led to the paralysis of several activities which, added to informality, quickly increased unemployment.

These figures should lead us to reflect. Economies must be prepared to face external shocks. The dramatic increase in poverty figures from one year to the next suggests that economic growth must be reinforced with welfare policies. Precisely, the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations establish five interdependent areas of development, these being people, the planet, prosperity, peace and alliances.

A key area is early childhood. Measures are required to ensure free universal education or to address chronic child malnutrition, so that children can develop in optimal and healthy conditions in this criticism.

This should be continued in adolescence, in order to prevent school dropouts, foster an education free of discrimination and promote access to higher education. Finally, in adulthood, access to labor rights must be guaranteed that allow health insurance, respect working hours and contribute to a pension system that ensures a quiet retirement.

Building a development agenda is not only up to the state. Private enterprise, academic think tanks and non-profit associations must guide their purpose so that these do not result in assistance actions, but promote long-term development conditions.

Editor: María Claudia Augusto Meléndez

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