Monday, August 10, 2020

Poverty Rises

 A domestic worker, Amsale Hailemariam knew from the inside out the luxury villas that had grown up around her crude home of raw metal and plastic sheeting.

“We are living in a state where we are above the dead and below the living,” Amsale said, near tears. “This is not life.”

Decades of progress in one of modern history’s greatest achievements, the fight against extreme poverty, are in danger of slipping away because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world could see its first increase in extreme poverty in 22 years, further sharpening social inequities.

With the virus and its restrictions, up to 100 million more people globally could fall into the bitter existence of living on just $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank. Even China, Indonesia and South Africa are expected to have more than 1 million people each fall into extreme poverty, the World Bank says.

That’s “well below any reasonable conception of a life with dignity,” the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty wrote this year.

 And it comes on top of the 736 million people already there, half of them in just five countries: Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Congo and Bangladesh.

“It’s a huge, huge setback for the entire world,” Gayle Smith, president of the ONE Campaign to end extreme poverty, told The Associated Press. Smith, a former administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, called the global response to the crisis “stunningly meager.”

“Small shocks in income can have devastating effects,” World Bank senior economist Christina Wieser said.
It shows. In Ethiopia, 55% of households blamed a drop in regular income for the inability to buy items like medicine or staple foods. Nearly 40% had lost all earnings from remittances from the large diaspora, a crucial way to stay afloat.
For many Ethiopians, there is still little cushion between getting by and destitution. Just over 20% of households were relying on savings, and 19% were already eating less. A quarter had run out of food in the last 30 days, and just over 5% of households received support of any kind.

No comments: