Liberia

Years of conflict and mismanagement have left Liberia one of the poorest countries in the world, with GDP per capita estimated at US$190.2 Poverty is pervasive, and is particularly acute in rural areas and the most remote corners of the country.

The main finding of the Core Welfare Indicator Questionnaire (CWIQ), carried out by the Liberian Institute of Statistics and GeoInformation Services (LISGIS), is that 63.8 percent of Liberians live below the poverty line. This implies that 1.7 million Liberians are living in poverty. Of these, about 1.3 million people are living in extreme poverty, equivalent to 48 percent of the population. Poverty is higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Since about 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas, about three-quarters of the poor live in rural areas.

Liberia’s infrastructure was severely damaged by war. Most Liberians have no access to electricity, improved water and sanitation facilities, acceptable housing, or decent roads. Weak infrastructure undermines income earning opportunities, limits access to health and education facilities, raises the price of goods and services, and weakens food security. Women and children bear a large burden as a result of poor infrastructure, as they must spend more time carrying water and other goods; are more vulnerable to crime; and have less access to health facilities, raising the risk of child and maternal mortality. Persons with disabilities are also disproportionately disadvantaged.

Food insecurity is high in Liberia and is evident in the poor nutritional status of the population. Over two-thirds of households report they cannot afford three meals a day. Two out of five Liberian children are growth-stunted and almost 20 percent are underweight. Poor health contributes significantly to poverty in Liberia, and health systems are in a state of disrepair in the aftermath of the conflict. Life expectancy at birth is just 45 years. There are only 51 Liberian physicians and 297 nurse midwives (excluding trained traditional midwives) to cover public health needs. Out of the 325 health facilities available before the war, about 95 percent were partially or wholly destroyed.

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