Colombia’s official statistics agency showed the depths of regional inequality in the country In poverty figures released Wednesday.
While on average the poverty level across Colombia was 34.1%, the poorest area of the country, Choco department on the west coast, suffered poverty rates nearly double the national average at 64%. Meanwhile, government statistics agency DANE reports, the area with the least poverty, the capital Bogota, had a poverty rate of only 13.1%, less than half the national average.
The director of DANE, Jorge Bustamento, described the poverty situation in Choco as “extremely grave,” according to local media.
“This should be a wake-up call to society, to make a grand effort with the whole establishment so that people can at least be able to live. There should be a broad campaign with unions, civil society, government and the media to confront this alarming situation,” he said.
The departments of Cundinamarca, Santander, Risaralda and Antioquia were the least afflicted by poverty, while Choco, Cauca, Cordoba, Magdalena and La Guajira had the worst poverty. It is likely that this distribution of poverty in part reflects the historical trend of rural areas of Colombia being significantly poorer than urban areas.
The indicator of extreme poverty – those living on less than $1.25 per day – shows the same departments at the bottom of the heap. Over a third of people in Choco and Cauca live in extreme poverty while nationwide 10.1%, or 4.7 million people, live in extreme poverty.
Inequality, which has historically been high in Colombia, shows much less variation between departments, with the one department that had been much higher, La Guajira, showing a significant fall in inequality in 2011. Bogota did not do so well by this measure, coming in only slightly less unequal than the national average.
Green = no poverty
Red = more than 50% under poverty line