World ex­treme poverty to fall

Lesotho Times - - International -

NEW YORK — The num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing in ex­treme poverty is likely to fall for the first time be­low 10 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion in 2015, the World Bank said on Sun­day as it re­vised its bench­mark for mea­sur­ing the prob­lem.

Ex­treme poverty has long been de­fined as liv­ing on or be­low $1.25 a day, but the World Bank’s ad­just­ment now sets the poverty line at $1.90 a day.

The Bank said the change re­flects new data on dif­fer­ences in the cost of liv­ing across coun­tries, while pre­serv­ing the real pur­chas­ing power of the pre­vi­ous yard­stick.

Us­ing the new bench­mark, the World Bank projects that 702 mil­lion peo­ple or 9.6 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion will be liv­ing in ex­treme poverty in 2015, down from 902 mil­lion peo­ple or 12.8 per­cent of the global pop­u­la­tion in 2012.

The global de­vel­op­ment lender at­trib­uted the con­tin­ued fall in poverty to strong eco­nomic growth rates in emerg­ing mar­kets, par­tic­u­larly In­dia, and in­vest­ments in ed­u­ca­tion, health, and so­cial safety nets.

“... th­ese pro­jec­tions show us that we are the first gen­er­a­tion in hu­man his­tory that can end ex­treme poverty,” World Bank Group Pres­i­dent Jim Yong Kim said in a state­ment.

How­ever, he warned that slower global growth, volatile financial mar­kets, con­flicts, high youth un­em­ploy­ment and the im­pact of cli­mate change were ob­sta­cles to meet­ing a UN tar­get to end poverty by 2030, part of a new set of de­vel­op­ment goals adopted by 193 coun­tries at the United Na­tions last month.

“But it re­mains within our grasp, as long as our high as­pi­ra­tions are matched by coun­try-led plans that help the still mil­lions of peo­ple liv­ing in ex­treme poverty,” Kim added.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bank, around half of those liv­ing in ex­treme poverty by 2020 will hail from hard-to-reach frag­ile and con­flictaf­fected states. Sub-sa­ha­ran Africa ac­counts for some half of the global poor.

Expects said the prospect of emerg­ing economies los­ing steam could chal­lenge prom­ises to erad­i­cate ex­treme poverty.

“If eco­nomic growth of the de­vel­op­ing world over the last 15 years was an anom­aly, was a blip, then we’re in trou­ble,” said Lau­rence Chandy, a fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion whose re­search fo­cuses on global poverty.

“If in­stead it’s a kind new nor­mal then we’ve got a good chance of get­ting close to this goal,” he told the Thom­son Reuters Foundation.

The World Bank first in­tro­duced a global poverty line in 1990, set­ting it at $1 a day.

It was ad­justed last in 2008, when the group raised it to $1.25 a day.

Across the planet, the num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing in ex­treme poverty has dropped by more than half since 1990, when 1.9 bil­lion peo­ple lived un­der $1.25 a day, com­pared to 836 mil­lion in 2015, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions.

This fol­lows the adop­tion in 2000 of the Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals (MDGS), which in­cluded the erad­i­ca­tion of ex­treme poverty.

Re­plac­ing the MDGS are the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals, a set of 17 goals to com­bat poverty, in­equal­ity and cli­mate change by 2030 — with end­ing ex­treme poverty for all peo­ple every­where, a key tar­get.

World Bank Pres­i­dent Jim Yong Kim

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