Socio Economic Report

Socio - Economic Report

The Socio-Economic Atlas (SEA) for Vanuatu includes five key groups of socio-economic indicators for population. Section A covers the indicators of household wellbeing in terms of consumptionbased poverty rates and inequality indices. Section B looks at the sources of livelihoods for households in terms of livestock numbers and share of households engaged in various economic activities. Section C focuses on the households’ living conditions by looking at the quality of dwelling, access to water and access to electricity. Section D explores education outcomes and shows percent of adult population with various levels of schooling. Section E looks at some indicators related to health status, such as percent of adults who smoke and consume alcohol. Section F looks at the distribution of education and health facilities and availability of the road and track network. 

It is important to note that all indicators presented in the Vanuatu SEA are at the level of Area Council (AC), the lowest level of administrative division in Vanuatu. The maps show the name of the AC, and not the island. Where an AC covers more than one island the name is repeated; for example in the Torres AC in Torba, “Torres” appears three times on the map for the islands of Hui, Tegua and Toga. Most of these indicators have been derived directly from the Vanuatu 2009 Census data. The consumption-based poverty and inequality indicators have been obtained using the smallarea
estimation techniques developed by the World Bank. These estimates are based on the use of the 2009 Census and 2010 HIES data.

Some of the key findings that emerge from these maps are highlighted below:

Section A: Household Wellbeing

The levels of the consumption-based poverty (% of population below the total poverty line) in Vanuatu could be considered as rather low, with a national average rate of 12.3%. However, there seem to be  certain areas where the poverty rates are substantially higher than national average. These are mostly areas around North Malekula, Maewo, Pentecost and Tanna. Poverty rates are lowest in prime agricultural areas of Santo and parts of Ambae and Ambrym.

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Section B: Sources of livelihoods

Traditionally in Vanuatu, livestock (especially pigs and, to a lesser extent, cattle and poultry) are not only kept for food, but as a store of wealth or for ceremonial purposes and special events. For this reason high rates of ownership may be a less reliable indicator of the absence of poverty. For instance, in Tanna pigs and poultry are common household assets, but poverty rates are relatively high. On the other hand, cattle ownership seems to be related to higher levels of wellbeing. In East Santo, where the poverty rate is 2.4%, the average household owns around 12.3 cows, compared to the national average of 2.2. Most households in Port Vila do not have any livestock at all, while some households in rural areas have more than 10 cattle per household. On some small islands, around 90% of households keep livestock and with the exception of Efate, growing cash crops is almost a universal pursuit for ni Vanuatu. About 40% of households raise pigs, and 64% have poultry, though these figures are weighed down by the lower rates in Port Vila.

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Section C: Household Living (Dwelling) Conditions

Living conditions vary considerably across Vanuatu, based in part on access to infrastructure and utilities. Those living outside urban areas and towns tend to go without electricity and often lack piped water and sewage systems. On most islands, almost all households mainly rely on wood or coconut shell for cooking – even in Port Vila almost half of households still cook using these sources. In the more urbanized parts of the country, houses have concrete or wood floors. Many households in Vanuatu live in basic conditions. For instance, even though traditional materials appear to be widely used for housing across the country, only 17% of households report living in dwellings with walls made of makeshift or improvised materials.

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Section D: Education

Indicators of educational attainment also vary considerably across the country. The islands of Torba province, along with Tanna and the western side of Santo report high proportions of adults without any schooling – sometimes more than 50%. Interestingly, the gender disaggregated maps for this indicator do not show large differences between men and women - the inequity here appears to be geographic, rather than gender based. There may also be an inherent bias in these results as the more educated people move to the urban centres. As would be expected, parts of Efate show higher rates of education than the national average. But so too do a number of remote areas (such as North Erromango, Vermali or East Santo) where, interestingly, their neighboring councils have relatively low rates. Distances from village to school may be a factor in these differences.

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Section E: Health

The census contains a limited number of health-related indicators. The share of people reporting some functional limitation is 12% nationwide, though this rises to around 30% in some parts of the country, such as Ambrym, Erromango, Epi or Efate. Given the nature of the census question for this indicator it is difficult to ascertain precisely the difficulties people face, but further investigation following the completion of the DHS in 2014 would be
warranted.

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Section F: Location of education and health facilities, and roads

The education and health facilities, mapped in Section F are disaggregated to the level that existing data can provide. For example, health facilities include hospitals, health centers, dispensaries and for some provinces - provincial and national offices. Education facilities include both government and non-government run schools, disaggregated by the level of education. All types of roads, from walking tracks to major roads, are illustrated as the same.

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