Global poverty continues to fall but Africa remains a problem

6 Oct 15

Less than 10% of the world’s population will be living in extreme poverty this year, the World Bank has said, but there is still “great concern” about the number concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa.

Latest projections in the bank’s Global Monitoring Report say numbers living in poverty will fall from 902 million people, or 12.8% of global population, in 2012 to 702 million people or 9.6% this year.

The fall in poverty has been driven by strong growth in developing countries over recent years and investment in education, health and social safety nets, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said.

“This is the best story in the world today – these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty,’’ Kim said.

“This new forecast of poverty falling into the single digits should give us new momentum and help us focus even more clearly on the most effective strategies to end extreme poverty.”

He cautioned, however, that with slowing global economic growth, volatile financial markets, conflicts, high youth unemployment, and the growing impact of climate change, the goal to end extreme poverty remained a highly ambitious target. Eradicating poverty by 2030 is the first of 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations and signed-off in New York last week by the agency’s 193 member states.

Despite the overall decline in world poverty, it is not dropping fast enough, particularly in areas like sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia that are afflicted by conflict or overly dependent on commodity exports.

The African situation was a particular concern. “While some African countries have seen significant successes in reducing poverty, the region as a whole lags the rest of the world in the pace of lessening poverty,” the bank said.

Its regional forecasts predict poverty in sub-Saharan Africa will fall to 35.2% in 2015, down from 42.6% in 2012, while in South Asia it will fall to 13.5% down from 18.8% in 2012.

Up-to-date poverty data was not available for the Middle East and North Africa because of conflict and fragility in key countries in the region. 

  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Public Finance International and Public Finance. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

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