3.4bn people struggle to meet basic needs

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October 22, 2018

By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

The World Bank group has stated in a press statement that despite the decline in extreme poverty in the world broader measures have shown that billions still struggle to meet basic needs.

The Group said in its biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report titled “Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle, “that many people live on less than US$3.20 per day in lower-middle-income countries, while others in upper-middle-income countries live on US$5.50 a day.

The Group, however, expressed commitment to achieve the goal of ending extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, by 2030.

“The share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty fell to 10 percent in 2015, but the pace of extreme poverty reduction has slowed,” the Bank warned on Sept. 19.

The release said extreme poverty had declined substantially to 36 percent in 1990 and that expanded examination of the nature of poverty demonstrates that the magnitude of the challenge in eradicating it.

“Over 1.9 billion people, or 26.2 percent of the world’s population, were living on less than $3.20 per day in 2015. Close to 46 percent of the world’s population was living on less than $5.50 a day,” the report said.

The report analyses how poverty varies within a household and also goes beyond monetary measures of poverty to understand how to access adequate water and sanitation, education, or electricity which affects a family’s well-being.

The report finds that the incomes of the poorest 40 percent grew in 70 of the 91 economies monitored and that more than half of the economies under review grew faster than the average, which means they were getting a bigger share of the economic pie.

The release said progress in sharing prosperity lagged in some regions of the world and that only one in four low-income countries and four of the 35 recognised fragile and conflict-affected states have data on shared prosperity.

The new measures, according to the World Bank, would allow them to better monitor poverty in all countries and in multiple aspects of life for all individuals in every household.

The statement said East Asia and Pacific region were one of the best performers in shared prosperity, while Europe and Central Asia countries suffered setbacks in the growth of incomes of its bottom 40.

The release further notes that Latin America and the Caribbean region saw less shared prosperity from 2010 to 2015 than in previous years as their economies were impacted by a slowdown in global commodity prices.

On the contrary, Middle East and North Africa region saw an increase in the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day, which presupposes that the levels of extreme poverty remain low.

Meanwhile, Sub-Saharan Africa countries experienced negative income growth for the bottom 40 percent of their populations according to the statement, and their population nearly doubled between 1990 and 2015, with one of the largest increases in population.