Up to 150 million could join extreme poor, World Bank says

JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Up to 150 million people could find themselves in extreme poverty by the end of next year, living on less than $ 1.90 a day, depending on how much economies contracted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank said on Wednesday as before.
Middle-income countries are expected to live 82% of the new extremely poor people, including India, Nigeria and Indonesia. Many of the new extremely poor people will be more educated urban dwellers, which means that urban poverty will increase, traditionally rooted in rural areas.
Most of the new extremely poor people, even more than 110 million even according to World Bank estimates, will live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The pandemic has abruptly halted years of progress in tackling global extreme poverty, which this year is expected to rise for the first time in over two decades. It also threatens to worsen global inequality and "make it harder for countries to return to inclusive growth," said World Bank President David Malpass.
Global economic growth is expected to decline 5.2% this year, more than in the past eight decades.
Almost a quarter of the world's population lives under $ 3.20 a day. Large numbers of people are vulnerable to the economic shocks that have come in waves this year. Unemployment is rising and those who scraped up their savings have seen them disappear. Families eat less. Many children, who make up half of the world's poor, miss out on distance learning.
"Many of the new poor are likely to be in informal services, construction and manufacturing - the sectors where economic activity is hardest hit by lockdowns and other mobility restrictions," the report said, citing telephone surveys in countries on the country the whole world.
According to experts, recovery could take a decade - a blow to the people who emerged from poverty and had better lives ahead of them.
Developing countries are demanding more support from the World Bank, other financial institutions and richer governments to free up resources to fight the pandemic. They want a group of 20 nations to extend the debt moratorium beyond the end of this year and are calling for full debt relief. They also want the International Monetary Fund to issue special drawing rights, but Washington has spoken out against it.
"If the global response fails now for the world's poor and vulnerable, the losses they have suffered so far may be dwarfed by what lies ahead," the report said. "We mustn't fail."
The extremely poor are at a disadvantage even before birth, the report warns: “Their mothers are less likely to receive adequate nutrition and prenatal care. at birth their existence is often not officially registered. “Escape from this poverty is becoming a major challenge.
In Africa, some countries had made "impressive strides" on poverty, and some had some of the fastest growing economies in the world before the pandemic. Now the 54 African countries say they will need $ 100 billion a year over the next three years to fight COVID-19 and its economic and social impact.
About a third of the new extremely poor people are expected to live in sub-Saharan Africa, between 26 and 40 million. However, South Asia will have the largest share at 49 to 57 million.
The addition of up to 150 million extremely poor people threatens to destroy already frayed government safety nets. The World Bank estimates that between 88 and 115 million people could find themselves in extreme poverty this year, and another 20 to 35 million in 2021.
And climate change could drive 100 million more people into poverty by 2030, the report said, with sub-Saharan Africa seeing some of the “most devastating effects” of global warming.
The report "does not offer simple answers to these great challenges the world is currently facing because there are none," the World Bank authors write. "The world can face the occasion - or succumb."
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