World poverty to drop below 10% for first time
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The rate of extreme poverty is likely to fall this year to under 10 percent of the global population for the first time, the World Bank said Sunday, though there is still “great concern” over the growing number of poor in Africa.
The Washington DC-based organisation predicted that the number of people living on less than $1.90 – the threshold used to define extreme poverty – will fall to 702 million people in 2015, or 9.6 per cent of the global population.
That is down from 902 million people, or 12.8 per cent of the global population, from 2012.
“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,” the World Bank’s President Jim Yong Kim said.
Kim put the reductions in poverty down to strong growth rates in developing countries and investment in education, health and other forms of welfare.
However, he warned that ending poverty entirely would still be “extraordinarily hard” particularly with the world facing a “period of slower global growth, volatile financial markets, conflicts, high youth unemployment, and the growing impact of climate change”.
Africa ‘lagging behind’
The World Bank’s report said three regions – East Asia and Pacific, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa – still accounted for the vast majority (95 percent) of people living in extreme poverty, a situation unchanged for the last three decades.
However, while poverty rates are falling considerably in Asia, they have risen dramatically in Sub-Saharan Africa, which now accounts for half of the world’s poorest people.
“The growing concentration of global poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern," the World Bank 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."
There was a lack of available data to assess poverty rates in the Middle East and North Africa because of the devastating conflicts in many of the region’s key cities, the World Bank said.
It also warned that the global economic crisis, which began in 2008, is now beginning to take its toll on previously robust emerging economies, which could see poverty rise again in the near future.
“There is some turbulence ahead,” said World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik 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.”
The World Bank had since 2008 used a figure of $1.25 a day as a global baseline for extreme poverty, but raised it to $1.90 a day for its latest report to adjust for inflation.
When used to measure poverty, that figure is converted into local currencies and adjusted to reflect the cost of living in a particular country.