Rural poverty in Moldova is 4 times higher than urban one, UNDP report

Jun 14, 2017


The gap between absolute urban and rural poverty is significant – 19% of population living at poverty line in rural areas vs. 5% in urban areas. The poorest spend most on food and utilities, which makes them vulnerable to economic shocks.  Besides financial inequalities, the most vulnerable groups – women, persons with disabilities, elderly and young people – are exposed to social inequalities in education, health, access to quality services, and participation.

Although the average disposable income of the population increased twice in 2010-2015, the gap between urban and rural population has increased too. Hence, the urban-rural income gap doubled from 23.6% in 2010 to almost 42% in 2015.

These inequalities are also amplified by the limited access to quality utility services in rural areas. In the absence of an economic growth felt by rural residents, the remittances are the only ones to cover the consumption.

These are some findings of the National Human Development Report 2015/2016, launched on 14 June 2017. The Study was developed by the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives IDIS “Viitorul”.

“We are considering inequalities as deviations from the favorable average, namely from the average human development result. While such deviations are present across the entire region of Europe and Central Asia, including in Moldova, there are some context specific issues, which require home grown solutions”, said Dafina Gercheva, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Republic of Moldova.

The report provides a sound evidence of country’s high vulnerability to external and internal shocks, political, social and economic crisis, climate change related natural disasters and other risks, and its low resilience and coping capacity. “In Moldova inequalities are on the rise, being driven by lack of decent jobs, poor quality of services, urban-rural divide, systemic and endemic corruption and weak social inclusion and cohesion. Bridging the gap between the rich and poor, addressing complex and interrelated challenges and paving the way to prosperity and equality requires comprehensive and holistic approach and concerted efforts”, noted Dafina Gercheva.

According to the authors of the study, the Southern region of the country is the most disadvantaged in terms of financial remuneration. The highest salaries are reported in Chisinau, followed by the Northern region. While the remittances account for only 6% of disposable income in the capital city, these account for one fourth for Southern residents and one fifth for Northern residents.

The average consumption expenditures of the population increased by 12.8% in 2015 compared to 2014. The largest share of financial resources is spent on food, housing maintenance, clothing, transport and communications. Only 0.6% of expenditures is spent on education, compared to 42.1% spent on food.

Women still earn on average by 12% less than men. The highest gender-based income gaps disadvantaging women were reported in information and communications (-23%), industry (-18.3%), arts, leisure and recreation (-15.1%) sectors.

Human development does not stop at income but implies access to basic services. In rural areas, 8 out of 10 wells are polluted. Only 43% of villagers have access to drinking water compared to 90% of population in urban area. The poorest population spends on average up to 15% of the disposable income on minimal standard of drinking water and sewage service, which costs too much.

There is a significant gap in accessing public services by persons with disabilities. Over 70% of public institutions are not equipped with access ramps.

The report recommends directing the policies and strategies towards middle class development, because it accounts for a large share of the population, and hence, will gain access to quality services that would contribute to a sustainable human development. At the same time, it is necessary to build the resilience capacity to external shocks and natural disasters, which usually affects the most vulnerable and excluded groups.  

Other National Human Development Reports can be accessed here.

ABOUT HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: Human development is about giving people more freedom to live lives they value. This concept – inspired from fundamental works of the Nobel Prize Winner Amartya Sen and promoted by the deceased Mahbub ul Haq, and known also as capacity approach due to its focus on vital freedom of people to be able to „live and create” – represents the essence of the UNDP approach.

Contact information

Laura Bohanțova, Communications Analyst, Tel: +373 685 11 883, #TalkInequality 

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