l Kinzang Namgay, Thimphu
The Poverty Analysis Report (PAR) has estimated that poverty rate in the country has fallen to 8.2 percent in 2017 from 12 percent in 2012.
Poverty line according to the report is the estimated minimum per capita consumption of a person living in the country at given period of time. And the poverty line of the report is marked at Nu 2,195 (estimated amount for food consumption is Nu. 1,473 and non-food requirement at Nu. 722).
The report also mentions that subsistence poverty has decreased from 2.8 percent to 1.5 percent in 2017. Further, only 1.5 percent of the population falls under this category. Subsistence poverty may be viewed as an extreme poverty that consumption expenditure is insufficient even to meet basic food needs if person devote his whole consumption expenditure to food.
A more comprehensive picture of poverty in Bhutan down to the Dzongkhag and Thromde levels was obtained through the analysis of consumption expenditure data and other poverty related indicators from Bhutan Living Standard Survey, 2017.
The report shows that poverty is still a rural phenomenon with a rate of 11.9 percent against 0.7 percent in urban areas.
The people living in Dagana, Zhemgang, Trongsa, Pemagatshel and Mongar Dzongkhags constitute about 40% of the total population below poverty line.
However, Haa, Thimphu and Paro have the least people below the line. Thimphu Thromde, Puentsholing Thromde, Gelephu Thromde and Samdrup Jongkhar collectively have less than 1 percent of people living below poverty line.
Around 12 percent of the surveyed population reported that they had suffered from sickness or injury in the four weeks prior to the survey, with no significant difference between the poor and non-poor. However, only 61.0 percent of the poor visited a medical facility, compared to 70 percent of the non-poor.
This approach estimates the food component of the poverty line as the cost of a food bundle attaining a predetermined minimum food energy requirement of 2,124Kcal per person per day, and then adds non-food requirements to the food component in order to yield the total poverty line.
The report shows that poverty reduction between 2012 and 2017 happened mainly due to increasing non-food consumption with no major change in food consumption patterns.
Consumption poverty is measured at the household level since data from BLSS 2017 does not allow intra-household analysis. Consequently, if household is considered poor, then its entire member are considered poor. Similarly, if a household is non-poor, none of its member is poor, report mentioned.
The poverty line, the minimum acceptable standard of per capita consumption needed to assure a minimum standard of living, is obtained using the Cost of Basic Needs (CBN) approach, a commonly used methodology in many countries for constructing the poverty line. The report mentioned that the literacy rate of poor in urban areas is 16 percent which is lower than urban non-poor.
Literacy rate has increased to 66 percent and it is 93 percent among youth, as per the survey report of the National Statistical Bureau (NSB).