22 Apr 2003

Gap between rich and poor in Marshall Islands widens

1:11 pm on 22 April 2003

A report released by the Asian Development Bank has revealed that many people in the Marshall Islands are facing hardship and that the problem is getting worse.

The ADB says two thirds of outer islanders live on less than 1 US dollar a day, while social conditions on Majuro and Ebeye are declining.

The report also reveals that the gap between the rich and poor is growing because of the concentration of highly paid public servants on Majuro and Ebeye.

The ADB says hardship in the outer islands has worsened over the last 5 years and that the situation in Majuro is only slightly better because of growth in the retail sector and infrastructure.

The ADB report says the low price of copra, infrequent ship visits, high cost of goods and lack of trade opportunities subject Marshallese to hardship in an increasingly cash-based society.

Meanwhile, the latest Pacific Human Development Report has ranked the Marshall Islands 8th out of 12 developing Pacific countries.