By Sheji Halima
More than 1 billion people could live in extreme poverty by 2030 due to the long-term effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a UN study released on Thursday.
That figure could be reached if the recovery is protracted and the economic crisis persists, pushing an additional 207 million people into poverty, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said.
Under a `baseline’ scenario, based on current mortality rates and recent growth projections by the International Monetary Fund, the study sees another 44 million people being driven below the poverty line over the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said that the number of people living in extreme poverty will increase by more than 32 million in 2020.
UNCTAD said in a report released also on Thursday that the increase would be due to the catastrophic economic impact of the pandemic on the least developed countries (LDCs).
According to UNCTAD, between October 2019 and October 2020, the economic growth forecast for LDCs was revised sharply downwards from 5 to -0.4 per cent.
UNDP, however, said that the surge of extreme poverty could be averted.
It said that the world’s pre-pandemic development trajectory could even be exceeded and could lift 146 million more people out of poverty if investments could be made in welfare programmes, governance, digitalisation and a green economy.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a tipping point, and the choices leaders take now could take the world in very different directions.
“We have an opportunity to invest in a decade of action that not only helps people to recover from COVID-19, but that re-sets the development path of people and planet towards a more fair, resilient and green future,’’ UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said in a press release. (dpa/NAN)