By Senabri Silvestre
SANTO DOMINGO, Dom. Rep. (AA) – After climbing out of poverty, 25 - 30 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are at risk of falling back into precarious economic situations, a new UN report said Tuesday.
The figures represent more than a third of the population in the region that was able to move out of poverty since 2003, according to the Regional Human Development Report.
The vulnerable group is part of 224 million people who are trying to transition from poverty to the middle class.
Economic and social transformation in the region in recent years have allowed almost 72 million people to climb out of the poverty, measured as existing on less than $4 per day, during the 10-year period dating from 2002- 2013, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that issued the report.
"We must protect governments´ achievements because to get those people out of poverty requires an investment of money,” UNDP official Melissa Breton said while presenting the report in the Dominican Republic.
Countries should not aim to simply increase the incomes of their overall populations but to also reach full development in other areas, Breton said.
The economically vulnerable are at risk of falling back into poverty because of decreased income and household assets, including the loss of employment or employment insecurity, health care or the effects of natural disasters, according to the report.
To avoid setbacks, planners suggest fortifying structures for universal social protection by expanding care systems, promoting greater access to physical and financial assets and developing employment skills.
“These vectors constitute a set of dimensions which, if taken into account in the design of public policy actions, could contribute to reducing the risks of falling into poverty,” the report said.
According to the report, the number of people living in poverty steadily decreased during the period studied, from almost 214 million to fewer than 142 million -- indicating 72 million people were able to improve their financial conditions.
On the other hand, however, the population living in economically vulnerable situations swelled by almost 45 million people during the same period, rising from 179 million in 2002 to 224 million in 2013.
And the size of the middle class increased by almost 94 million people to almost 202 million.
The Human Development Report was conducted with more than 60 legislators from across the region at the headquarters of the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament located in Panama.