Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
The convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the pressures of conflict and climate change will put the goal of ending poverty by 2030 beyond reach without swift, significant and substantial policy action, the World Bank said. By 2030, the global poverty rate could be about 7 percent. Increasing numbers of urban dwellers are expected to fall into extreme poverty, which has traditionally affected people in rural areas. Progress was slowing even before the COVID-19 crisis. New global poverty data for 2017 shows that 52 million people rose out of poverty between 2015 and 2017. Yet despite this progress, the rate of reduction slowed to less than half a percentage point per year between 2015 and 2017.
Global poverty had dropped at the rate of around 1 percentage point per year between 1990 and 2015.
In addition to the US$ 1.90 per-day international poverty line, the World Bank measures poverty lines of US$ 3.20 and US$ 5.50, reflecting national poverty lines in lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries.
The report further measures poverty across a multidimensional spectrum that includes access to education and basic infrastructure.
While less than a tenth of the world’s population lives on less than US$ 1.90 a day, close to a quarter of the world’s population lives below the US$ 3.20 line and more than 40 percent of the world’s population – almost 3.3 billion people – live below the US$ 5.50 line.
The COVID-19 crisis has also diminished shared prosperity – defined as the growth in the income of the poorest 40 percent of a country’s population. Average global shared prosperity is estimated to stagnate or even contract over 2019-2021 due to the reduced growth in average incomes.
The deceleration in economic activity intensified by the pandemic is likely to hit the poorest people especially hard, and this could lead to even lower shared prosperity indicators in coming years.
The prospect of less inclusive growth is a clear reversal from previous trends. Shared prosperity increased in 74 of 91 economies for which data was available in the period 20122017, meaning that growth was inclusive and the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of the population grew.
In 53 of those countries, growth benefited the poorest more than the entire population. Average global shared prosperity (growth in the incomes of the bottom 40 percent) was 2.3 percent for 2012-2017. This suggests that without policy actions, the COVID-19 crisis may trigger cycles of higher income inequality, lower social mobility among the vulnerable, and lower resilience to future shocks.
The report calls for collective action to ensure years of progress in poverty reduction are not erased, and that efforts to confront poverty caused by COVID-19 also face threats that disproportionally impact the world’s poor at the same time, particularly conflict and climate change.