Poverty and indigenous heritage: any possible link?

According to the INEI figures, poverty affects those who have any of the indigenous languages in as their mother tongue. The National Household Survey (Enaho) indicates that 60.4% of the population of native communities are living in poverty, while 20.1% live in extreme poverty.

The incidence of poverty among the indigenous population doubles those whose native language is Spanish in Latin America. One more fact, the Demographic and Family Health Survey (Endes) of 2014 indicates that only 19.9% of the native pregnant women received prenatal care, while 90.7% of non-indigenous pregnant women did. Like these, other indicators lead us to the same conclusion: the gaps in access to public services between the indigenous and non-indigenous population are immense.

These figures oblige us to recognize that in Latin American certain populations due to their ethnic grouping have not had equal access to opportunities such as education, health, water and sanitation or electricity. This without entering to discuss the quality of the services to which they have access and the adequacy to their own culture. The recent World Bank report "Indigenous Latin America in the 21st Century" concludes that the birth of indigenous parents markedly increases the probability of growing up in a poor household, which impedes the full development of indigenous children and anchors them in poverty .

That is why when it comes to setting goals in order to reduce poverty, we must consider the design of particular policies and mechanisms to address it. It is necessary to innovate in the social policy to respond to contexts of high geographic dispersion, low population density, with economies outside the market - due to the costly and low production - and where day-to-day is overcome with traditional activities such as Hunting and fishing.

How to do it? First assuming differentiated costs; Vaccinating an indigenous child will cost much more than a child in another part of the continent. Second, recognize that figures on ethnic groups are subsumed in the averages of the district, province or region.

Third, it is necessary to take into account the ethnic variable in politics and social programs. This implies that institutions intervene from the conviction that state actions do not have the same impact and acceptance in all cultures.

Fourth, the cultural richness of these peoples must be considered as an asset for their development. Ancestral knowledge of people in agricultural technology, livestock management, forestry or water management does not currently imply any economic benefit to them and are not considered as assets that can be used for income generation.

Latin America cannot reach full development by maintaining these exclusions, nor continue to cover up the indigenous face of poverty. If we do not innovate and bet on differentiated policies, we will witness the slow and silent disappearance of our indigenous peoples.

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