ALMATY – Kazakhstan’s state statistics agency released annual figures showing that poverty rates fell to 5.3% of the population last year compared to 6.5% in 2010 and 12.7% in 2007 (April 23).
Figures also showed that 8.8% of the population of rural Kazakhstan lived in poverty last year compared with 2.4% in the cities.
This is good news, if also expected in a country growing rich from exploiting its oil and mineral reserves. It is unclear, however, how the data was gathered and
manipulated. It also has to be stressed that this is state-issued information.
The figures are more enlightening on charting the distribution of poverty in Kazakhstan.
Mangistau, the oil producing region in the west of the country, officially carries the highest rate of poverty.
Just over 10% of its total population (and 18% of all the people living in rural Mangistau) live in poverty.
After riots in December that killed at least 16 people, Mangistau has become synonymous with social discontent in Kazakhstan.
Islamic radicals looking to indoctrinate the disenchanted, have also found Mangistau a fertile recruiting ground.
These poverty statistics highlight the ongoing problem.
This story was first published on April 27 in issue 7 of the Kazakhstan News Extra.