The past year has presented the world with unprecedented situations and challenges. Covid-19 pandemic has tested nations’ and humanity’s limits. The combination of the pandemic, climate crisis, and increasing debt has wrecked havoc on countries, more so on the vulnerable ones. The progress made in the last few decades to tackle global poverty and progress towards eliminating it seems to have taken a reverse gear – all the efforts look lost.
World Bank has warned of a “truly unprecedented increase” in this year’s poverty levels across the world. It has also urged countries to initiate debt forgiveness to provide some relief. Multiple arenas including employment and education will experience a growing crisis that will persist for years to come, experts warn. In January, the World Bank updated its forecasted number of poverty impacted people in 2021 from between 88 and 115 million to between 119 and 124 million.
Since 1960s global poverty has improved drastically. It was the time when over 80% of world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Through decades of efforts, now near 10% of that number has been reduced.
Past few months have seen red flags raised with increased number of dropout in education due to pandemic. In developing nations it adds to the rate of unemployment and loss of wages. With closed schools, workplaces and job lay-offs, this has only added to the growing problem.
International Labour Organization (ILO) said that during the pandemic $3.7 trillion in earnings were lost by global workers. This has been one of the most astonishing warnings by a global organization. Last year’s Global Wage Report by ILO had warned that the Covid-19 crisis was “likely to inflict massive downward pressure on wages in the near future with women and low-paid workers disproportionately affected by the crisis”.
Axel van Trotsenburg, managing director of operations at the World Bank said, “Our concern is that with this crisis we are seeing a reversal in the sustained reduction in extreme poverty and are now witnessing increases. The current estimates are an extra 150 million by the end of this year.”
The pandemic is bringing in changes that would be seen for years to come and would take years of dedicated intense efforts to bring any reversal of damage.