According to figures produced last week by the National Statistics Institute (INEI) from the National Demographic and Family Health Survey (ENDES), anaemia in children under the age of three increased in nine regions between 2014 and 2017. These range from an increase of 3.7% in Ica down to an increase of 0.4% in Huánuco. This is a particularly worrying sign since reduction in levels of anaemia (a reflection of malnutrition) was identified several years ago as a key target in the fight against poverty in Peru.

Puno is the region where levels of anaemia were highest in 2017 (75.9% of children), followed by Loreto (61.5%), Ucayali (59.1%), Pasco (58%) and Madre de Dios (57.3%). The World Health Organization (WHO) adopts 40% of children suffering from anaemia as a key benchmark. In Peru, the figure is above 40% in 19 of the country’s 24 regions (excluding Callao). The government’s target was to reduce the national average to 37.9% in 2017; however, the outcome was 43.6%.

Data from the National Household Survey (Enaho), also recently published by INEI, show that levels of monetary poverty increased in 2017 (compared to 2016), the first rise in 20 years. 21.7% of the population suffered poverty in 2017, as opposed to 20.7% the year before. 375,000 people thus descended into poverty.

Where poverty levels increased most rapidly were in Cuzco, Junín and Lambayeque. Poverty was highest as a percentage of the total population in Cajamarca, followed by Huancavelica and Pasco.

Part of the explanation for the increase in poverty is the slowdown in growth and its impact on job creation in a country where large numbers of relatively young people enter the job market each year. But these figures also raise doubts as to the efficacy of the government’s various social programmes.