Sabah likely to miss ‘zero hardcore poor’ target

By Charlie Rudai, Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: With 19 days to go to 2011, the ‘zero hardcore poor by year-end’  target set by the Sabah government is looking like a tall order, according to an academician here.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Head of Ethnography and Demography Research Unit, Associate Professor Rosazman Hussin (photo) said hardcore poor families still exist in Sabah and it was unlikely they would suddenly become ‘richer’ overnight.

Leading a team of researchers on a study to the northern most reaches of Sabah comprising Kudat, Pulau Banggi and Matunggong, he said it was however possible to totally eradicate hardcore poor to zero as their numbers were relatively small.

But he said, it would be impossible to totally eliminate poverty in the short-term.

“It can however be lowered to two or one percent but not zero. For me while the target is important, more important is that we have a short and long-term transparent and comprehensive plan to eradicate hardcore poor. That is more important to us,” he said.

Rosazman had earlier presented their findings in a paper entitled: “The Success and Limitation of the Poverty Eradication Programmes and Poor Group Participation in Kudat, Sabah” at the 10th Conference of The Asia Pacific Sociological Association (APSA 10) at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu on Friday.

The team suggested that the government delivery system, especially the monitoring aspect of hardcore poor eradication programme, be improved in order for it to be successful.

Monitoring neccesary

Together with Dayang Suria Haji Mulia, Jalihah Md Shah and Satrya Panji Sakti, Rosazman conducted a study on 711 people in Kudat, Pulau Bangi and Matunggong, on the factors affecting success as well as limitations of poverty eradication programmes introduced by the development agencies in Sabah from 2007 to 2009.

The team discovered that despite such poverty alleviation programmes, the level of monthly income for these participants remained low and had not changed much.

The study had sought to find out the type of institutional and personal obstacles remaining in the path of these families despite attempts to remedy their situation.

“The research finding indicates that Kudat area still has a high population of hardcore poor because out of the 711 respondents about 80.9% receive a monthly income below the poverty line of RM540,” he said.

Majority of them, he said were fishermen mostly living along the Kudat coastal area and Pulau Bangi as well as subsistence farmers in interior Kudat and Matunggong.

In Matunggong, it was found that the problem faced by the hardcore poor was the lack of public facilities like roads, water and electricity supply.

“When these facilities do not exist of course their poor condition remains,” he said.

He noted that the development agencies did deliver certain programmes or projects to the hardcore poor.

“But the delivery needs to be improved particularly in monitoring.

“When the department delivers these programmes or projects there must be continuous monitoring such as in the caged-fish rearing project because the fisherman might be lacking in experience and in the end the project will fail.

“So how can a fisherman improve his monthly income if the project fails?” he asked.