Sarawak’s implementation of the 1Azam programme has succeeded in cutting the number of poor people in the state by more than a third in the last five years.

Since 1Azam was introduced in 2010, the ambitious poverty eradication drive has helped 37,300 local people out of poverty, Sarawak’s Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah told journalists at a press conference in January.

Sarawak now has 72,000 people classified as “hardcore poor” (29,550), “poor” (35,000) or “at high risk of being poor” (7,500). It is the only state in the federation that still has a significant number of people suffering from hardcore poverty, with household incomes of less than RM660.

“Eradicating poverty is not as simple as giving people tools and training to increase their income,” the minister said. “It is about improving the situation so that they are able to earn a sustainable income for more than two years.”

Fatimah praised 1Azam’s “very systematic approach” to reaching out to the poor, pointing out that the United Nations regards a 10 per cent reduction in poverty as “very good”. By that international standard, Sarawak’s success is quite exceptional.