Record growth in the world's poorest countries has failed to prevent an increase in their total numbers of poor people, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said on Thursday.
Recent rising food costs threaten to undercut what modest progress has been achieved, while three quarters of people living in least developed countries (LDCs) still survive on less than $2 a day, it said in a report.
Income under $2 a day does not allow most people to meet basic needs for food, water, shelter, health or education, the Least Developed Countries Report 2008 noted.The 49 LDCs experienced record growth of 7.9 percent in 2005, followed by 7.5 percent in 2006 and a projected 6.7 percent in 2007, the report said.
But the high growth rates, driven in many cases by record exports boosted by high energy and minerals prices, may not be sustainable, it said."The recent growth surge is generally not associated with a structural transition in which the share of manufactures in total output is growing (except for most Asian LDCs)," it said."In fact, as compared with 10 years earlier, half of the LDCs have experienced deindustrialization, reflected in a declining share of manufacturing in GDP."
This record growth should have provided the opportunity for substantial improvements in living conditions but rapid population increases and other factors mean some 581 million out of a total 2005 LDC population of 767 million continue to live in material deprivation, it said.