Thirty percent of residents in the two urban centers in the Marshall Islands live below the “basic-needs income line,” while double that number are below this income poverty line in the outer islands.

That’s according to a report prepared by the Asian Development Bank, as reported by Marianas Variety.

“The income gap is most severe in Majuro and Ebeye where 75 percent of the 55,000 population lives,” the newspaper says. “The ADB-sponsored assessment of ‘hardship’ confirms reports from other sources about deepening poverty in the country.”

Poverty is widespread in the Marshall Islands, as seen on Ebeye.
Poverty is widespread in the Marshall Islands, as seen on Ebeye. Chad Blair/Civil Beat

“There are growing concerns over high unemployment, financial hardship, hunger and poor nutrition,” says the report, which was conducted last year as part of the U.S. government-funded annual economic review of the Marshalls, part of Micronesia.

More stark observations: “Increasing poverty, government corruption, family violence, and an epidemic of lifestyle diseases dominate daily life for an increasing number of islanders now living in urban centers, largely divorced from their roots in remote villages.”

And this: “In the urban centers, with an unemployment rate among young adults estimated at 60 percent, “many youth just play ukulele all day, talk story or drink alcohol,” says Alson Kelen, who runs a “life and vocational” skills training program centered on outrigger canoes for out of school youth. “It’s the same every day.”

To learn more about Micronesia and its challenges, and how it impacts the United States, read Civil Beat’s special series The Micronesians.

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