6 Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty

Where are we?

Photo by UNDP Iraq 2012

With an estimated population of 31.7 million, of which 41% is under the age of 15[1], Iraq’s economy has been under considerable stress to maintain suitable living standards and adequate employment growth. Overall, Iraq’s economic growth – although positive over the last few years – is considered to be unsustainable, partly due to its high reliance on oil related revenues and poor private sector development associated with conflict and political instability. It is also non-inclusive, with an enormous gap between the very wealthy and those living below the subsistence level. A large section of the population is caught in the poverty trap with a serious shortage of employment opportunities - particularly for young people - and a low participation of women in the labour market, accompanying food insecurity and only limited access to basic services.

The original indicator measured the proportion of people living on less than US$ 1 per day, but Iraq exceeded this target relatively quickly.  To accommodate this rapid achievement, the indicator was revised to measure the proportion of people with incomes below US$ 2.5 per day. Iraq’s national target was to reduce the proportion of the population living in poverty to 16% by 2015. This figure declined from 13.9% in 2007 to 11.5% in 2011, therefore this indicator has been achieved.

The country’s economic outlook has been positive in recent years with Iraq’s Gross Domestic Product growth per capita continuing to rise, from 0.8% in 2007 to 2.1% in 2011. Unemployment rates among the youth population (15-24 years) dropped from 30% in 2008 to 22.8% in 2011. The government and public sector employ 40 percent of all those in regular work while the remainder is employed in the informal and private sectors.

In terms of food insecurity, a 1% reduction was observed in the population consuming less than the recommended daily energy intake. The current national rate is 6%, however Basrah has an alarmingly high rate of 21%. The percentage of underweight children under fi­ve decreased from 15.9% in 2000 to 8.4% in 2011, but some provinces still face high rates of food deprivation, with Anbar, Baghdad and Najaf having the highest malnutrition rates in the country.

[1] LB Factsheet IKN

Targets for MDG1
  1. Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day
    • Proportion of population below $1 (PPP) per day
    • Poverty gap ratio
    • Share of poorest quintile in national consumption
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
    • Growth rate of GDP per person employed
    • Employment-to-population ratio
    • Proportion of employed people living below $1 (PPP) per day
    • Proportion of own-account and contributing family workers in total employment
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
    • Prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age
    • Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption