According to the Household Survey (ENAHO) done in 2015, it is estimated that 21.8% of households in Costa Rica are living in poverty.  According to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (WPI), this amounts to 318,421 households and 1,262,219 people living in poverty.   The United Nation’s Agenda 2030 calls for eliminating all forms of social exclusion, and promoting inclusive development.

Poverty in Costa Rica
Woman with her family.

Under the slogan “Do Not Leave Anyone Behind”,  Costa Rica has begun a series of national dialogues on the strengths and challenges of public policies in the country, specifically addressing poverty reduction.   These dialogues are aimed at influencing the development of a more articulate and comprehensive model that enhances the country’s goal to achieve Sustainable Development, as well as support efforts to end poverty in all its forms throughout the world.

In order to initiate a dialogue process that will develop a national agenda to eliminate poverty and social inclusion, there were meetings on September 22 and 23rd held at the Parque La Libertad.  Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría, Costa Rican Vice President, stressed that “we are working towards decisions that allow us to overcome the gaps of inequality, social injustice, and commitment to human development”.   She added that ending poverty is only possible if all sectors of society define what actions and sustained efforts are needed over time.  To achieve this, these dialogue seminars will include representatives from public institutions, academia, civil society, private sector, and international cooperation.  They aim to develop public policy recommendations through participation and evidence presented.  They hope to influence the long-term planning for the country as it moves towards achieving the goals of the UN Agenda 2030.

Poverty in Costa Rica
Reduced to begging for her meals

The Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy, Olga Marta Sanchez Oviedo, pointed out that the Ministry of Planning is a member of the National Coordination Commission, as well as  coordinator for the Technical Secretariat of the UN in Costa Rica.  The Ministry  is responsible for promoting and encouraging mechanisms for dialogue, coordination, and methodology for accomplishing this important task. “Complying with the UN Agenda is only possible if there are multiple actors, and various forces acting synergistically across the different sectors.  It will be important to incorporate the specific actions necessary in each community, town, county, and region within the country.”

Dental care in Costa Rica

Commitments, vision of a better world, and a national co-existence program that does not leave anyone out, as stated in this new UN motto,  requires clear purposes to be able to fulfill the 17 goals in the framework of Agenda 2030.  The formation of this new direction requires plans, agreements, resources, and tools that will assist in its implementation” said Sanchez Oviedo.

Poverty in Costa Rica
Looking for food wherever they can find it.

The United Nations Agenda 2030 recognizes that the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the biggest challenge facing the world.  Eradication of poverty is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.  In the case of Costa Rica, a major challenge is the need to improve coordination between institutions and programs.  Recently the country has shown  significant progress in this area.

“At the beginning of this administration, we recognized the challenge of building a nation-wide process that would allow Costa Rica to propose a series of transformations.  The use of technology, inter-agency coordination, and a paradigm shift in the model of care for families in extreme poverty can now be merged with technical tools such as the Multidimensional Poverty Index and Social maps.  This now allows the government the ability to determine the allocation of resources in proportion to the identified needs, as well as promote, monitor, and evaluate the existing social programs.  Key to ending poverty is the commitment to generate synergies, inter-agency coordination, and strategic alliances”, said Minister of Human Development and Social Inclusion and CEO of IMAS, Emilio Arias Rodriguez.

Poverty in Costa Rica
Family of African descent

Alice Shackelford, Resident Representative of the UN Development Program (UNDP), noted that compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals, especially the commitment to end poverty, represents the largest effort for humanity.  It will require mainstreaming the human rights approach in social and economic policies.   She says priority must be given to excluded groups such as women, indigenous tribes, Afro-descendants, LGTBI, those with disabilities, and migrant workers.  In Costa Rica for example,  43.5% of households living in poverty are headed by women as compared to 34.1% of households living above the poverty line.

“Agenda 2030 offers a great opportunity for Costa Rica to agree on a vision and a national long-term approach that would achieve real and lasting change in the fight against poverty and inequality.  As well, this new approach can then build an economic development model that is more inclusive and sustainable over time.  This will ensure that nobody is left behind, for it is essential to meet the needs of every family and every person living in poverty.  We need to identify characteristics and experiences they share, and thus understand how they perceive access opportunities and programs”, Shackelford said.

Bri Bri village, Costa Rica
Bri Bri village

The “Do Not Leave Anyone Behind” directive will be making stops in all communities and households where there are children, adolescents with disabilities, migrants, indigenous, Afro-descendants and those living in vulnerable conditions.  They are entitled to access all of the opportunities the Costa Rican government can provide them to achieve a decent life.  This Seminar will promote dialogue and deep reflection on the conditions and opportunities that are available to children and their families, reaching out to everyone without distinction”, said Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF Representative in Costa Rica.

The activity has been organized by the office of the Vice President, the Presidential Social Council, the Ministry of Human Development and Social Inclusion (IMAS), the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy (MIDEPLAN), the UN Technical Secretariat, the UN Development Program (UNDP), and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Costa RicaUnited Nations logo

For more information contact:

Diana Ramirez Chaves

Communication Advisor, UNDP

[email protected]

Tel: 2296-1544 ext. 2121

www.cr.undp.org