Amerindians among the poorest in Guyana – UNDP study shows

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In Guyana, while Amerindians account for only 10.51 percent of the population, they represent 63 percent of the multidimensionally poor. This is according to a new analysis on global multidimensional poverty released on October 7, 2021.

The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) measures poverty by considering various deprivations experienced by people in their daily lives, including poor health, insufficient education and a low standard of living.

In a press release following up on the analysis, UNDP Guyana stated that the finding resonates with a recent concern expressed by President Irfaan Ali about the disparity between Guyana’s coastland and hinterland development.

On the occasion, he assured indigenous leaders in Region 9 that his Government will “invest more in Amerindian communities because there is a gap between you and the other communities in this country”.


Examining the analysis, it is revealed that indigenous peoples are the poorest in most Latin American countries covered. Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana and Paraguay were home to indigenous groups among the poorest. However, in Peru and Suriname some indigenous groups fare better.

Meanwhile, on the larger scale in Guyana, based on 2019/2020 data, 1.7 percent of the population (or 13,000people in 2019) were multidimensionally poor.

Approximately 6.5 percent of the population (or 51,000 people in 2019) were classified as vulnerable to multidimensional poor. These are people with inadequate sanitation, substandard housing, non-access to improved drinking water or those who live in a household with at least one undernourished person.

Regarding Guyana, it was stated: “The intensity of deprivations, which is the average deprivation score among people living in multidimensional poverty, is 38.8 percent.”

While complete data on COVID-19’s impacts on the MPI are not yet available, the pandemic has exposed cracks in social protections systems, education, and workers’ vulnerability around the world. These cracks, the report shows, are deepest in countries with higher levels of multidimensional poverty.

For instance, millions of children around the world stopped attending school during the pandemic but that disruption of formal education was more prevalent in higher MPI countries.

The report examines the level and composition of multidimensional poverty across 109 countries covering 5.9 billion people and presents an ethnicity/race/caste disaggregation for 41 countries with available information, including Guyana.

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