Italy’s poor south risks ‘desertification’

Impoverished southern Italy is at risk of being deserted by both people and industry, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Italy's poor south risks 'desertification'
Naples, in Italy's southern Campania region. Naples photo: Shutterstock

The south of Italy is “a land at risk of industrial and human desertification, where emigration continues,” said the report by Svimez, the association for industrial development in southern Italy.

Southerners have for years been fleeing regions such as Calabria and Campania for greater opportunity in the industrial north, although Svimez says the situation has become particularly dire in recent years.

“In five years the number of families in absolute poverty has gone up by two and half times, from 443,000 to 1.14 million nuclear families,” the association was quoted by Ansa as saying.

The Svimez figures are backed up by government statistics released earlier this month, which showed that poverty rates are lower in the north.

Absolute poverty affects 7.3 percent of the population in the north, 7.6 percent in the central regions and a stark 14.8 percent in the south.

READ MORE: 1.4m Italian children in absolute poverty

The southern regions of Calabria, Calabria and Sicily fared worst in Italy for job prospects and income, according to a June report by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Residents’ health also suffers in the south, with Campania – which has been subjected to illegal toxic waste dumping – being ranked the worst region for health wellbeing.

READ MORE: Italians are poorer but healthier: OECD

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