Ex­treme poverty to fall be­low 10%: WB


Ex­treme poverty will this year fall to less than 10 per­cent of the global pop­u­la­tion for the first time, although there is still “great con­cern” for mil­lions in Africa, a World Bank re­port said Sun­day.

“This is the best story in the world to­day — these pro­jec­tions show us that we are the first gen­er­a­tion in hu­man history that can end ex­treme poverty,” said Jim Yong Kim, pres­i­dent of the World Bank, which holds its an­nual meet­ings Oc­to­ber 9-11 in Lima, along with the IMF.

Ac­cord­ing to World Bank pro­jec­tions, about 702 mil­lion peo­ple, or 9.6 per­cent of the world pop­u­la­tion, will live be­low the poverty line this year, mostly in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and Asia.

In 2012, that num­ber stood at 902 mil­lion, or about 13 per­cent of the world pop­u­la­tion. It stood at 29 per­cent in 1999. Ac­cord­ing to Kim, the con­tin­u­ing de­cline in ex­treme poverty is the re­sult of dy­namic eco­nomic growth in de­vel­op­ing na­tions and in­vest­ment in health and ed­u­ca­tion, as well as so­cial safety nets that pre­vented mil­lions of peo­ple from fall­ing back into poverty.

“This new forecast of poverty fall­ing into the sin­gle dig­its should give us new mo­men­tum and help us fo­cus even more clearly on the most ef­fec­tive strate­gies to end ex­treme poverty,” he said.

Pre­vi­ously, peo­ple liv­ing on US$1.25 or less a day were de­fined as liv­ing in ex­treme poverty. That fig­ure is now US$1.90, to re­flect in­fla­tion.

The re­port comes af­ter world lead­ers last month pledged to end ex­treme poverty within 15 years, adopt­ing an am­bi­tious set of United Na­tions goals to be backed up by tril­lions of dol­lars in de­vel­op­ment spend­ing.

Re­leas­ing the fig­ures, the World Bank nev­er­the­less urged cau­tion, say­ing “ma­jor hur­dles re­main” in the goal to end poverty by 2030.

“The grow­ing con­cen­tra­tion of global poverty in Sub- Sa­ha­ran Africa is of great con­cern,” it said in a state­ment.

“While some African coun­tries have seen sig­nif­i­cant suc­cesses in re­duc­ing poverty, the re­gion as a whole lags the rest of the world in the pace of less­en­ing poverty.”

The re­port sin­gled out Mada­gas­car and the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo as par­tic­u­larly wor­ri­some ex­am­ples of de­pri­va­tion in Africa.

It also cau­tioned that re­li­able cur­rent data was not avail­able in part of the Mid­dle East and North Africa be­cause of con­flict.

‘Tur­bu­lence ahead’

In con­trast, the re­port noted a marked de­cline in ex­treme poverty in Asia — par­tic­u­larly In­dia — and in South Amer­ica.

How­ever, Kaushik Basu, chief economist at the World Bank, sounded an alarm over a slow­down in emerg­ing mar­kets world­wide — with Latin Amer­ica an em­blem of the sput­ter.

“There is some tur­bu­lence ahead,” said Basu.

“The eco­nomic growth out­look is less im­pres­sive for emerg­ing economies in the near fu­ture, which will cre­ate new chal­lenges in the fight to end poverty and at­tend to the needs of the vul­ner- able, es­pe­cially those liv­ing at the bot­tom 40 per­cent of their so­ci­eties.”

Ox­fam wel­comed the land­mark fig­ures be­low 10 per­cent, but warned that hard work re­mains to drag the re­main­ing 702 mil­lion peo­ple out of ex­treme poverty.

“That fig­ure re­mains un­ac­cept­ably high and much re­mains to be done,” said Ni­co­las Mom­brial, head of Ox­fam In­ter­na­tional’s Washington of­fice.

“A lot of new re­sources and fun­da­men­tal po­lit­i­cal change are needed.”


A home­less In­dian man sits at a traf­fic in­ter­sec­tion in the morn­ing in New Delhi, In­dia, Wed­nes­day, Sept. 30.

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