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Covid-19 and Extreme Poverty: UNDP

  • 07 Dec 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

A new study from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has found that an additional 207 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030 due to the severe long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic, bringing the total number of the world’s extremely poor to more than a billion.

  • The study is part of a long-standing partnership between the UNDP and the Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver (USA).
  • The study assesses the impact of different Covid19 recovery scenarios on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), evaluating the multidimensional effects of the pandemic over the next decade.

Key Points

  • Findings:
    • Under a ‘Covid Baseline’ scenario (based on current mortality rates and the most recent growth projections by the International Monetary Fund - IMF), 44 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030 as a result of the pandemic.
      • The World Bank defines “extreme poverty” as living on less than 1.90 USD per person per day.
    • Under a ‘High Damage’ scenario, where the recovery is protracted, Covid 19 is likely to push an additional 207 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.
      • It could increase the female poverty headcount by an additional 102 million.
      • The ‘High Damage’ scenario anticipates that 80% of the Covid-19 induced economic crisis would persist in 10 years’ time due to loss in productivity, preventing a full recovery to the growth trajectory seen before the pandemic.
  • Suggestions:
    • A focused set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) investments over the next decade in social protection/welfare programmes, governance, digitalisation, and a green economy could not only prevent the rise of extreme poverty but actually exceed the development trajectory the world was on before the pandemic.
      • This ambitious, SDGs Push scenario would lift an additional 146 million people out of extreme poverty, narrow the gender poverty gap, and reduce the female poverty headcount by 74 million.
    • The concerted SDG interventions combine behavioural changes through both governments and citizens, which are as follows:
      • Improvement in effectiveness and efficiency in governance.
      • Changes in consumption patterns of food, energy and water.
      • Global collaboration for climate action.
      • Additional investments in Covid-19 recovery.
      • Need for improved broadband access and technology innovation.


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