The number of people living in extreme poverty is still declining, but the decline in poverty rates has slowed, according to the summary of the first chapter of the report Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle, which was pre-published by the World Bank in September 2018. The whole report will be released on October 17, End Poverty Day. The slowdown in the decline of poverty rates raises concerns about achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 “End poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030.
According to the World Bank data, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty globally fell to a new low of 10 per cent in 2015 (latest number available), down from 11 per cent in 2013. The number of people living on less than USD 1.90 a day fell during this period by 68 million to 736 million. In the 25 years from 1990 to 2015, the extreme poverty rate dropped an average of one percentage point per year – from nearly 36 per cent to 10 per cent. But the rate dropped only by one percentage point in the two years from 2013 to 2015.
The deceleration in global numbers stems mainly from an increasing concentration of extreme poverty in regions where poverty reduction has lagged. Slowing declines in poverty also reflect falling commodity prices, conflict, and other economic challenges for developing countries. The World Bank’s preliminary forecast is that extreme poverty has declined to 8.6 per cent in 2018.
Globally, extreme poverty is disproportionately rural. Approximately 55 per cent of the world’s population and more than three-fourths of the total poor live in rural areas, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2015, more than half of the global poor resided in Sub-Saharan Africa and more than 85 per cent of poor people lived in either Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia. According to the World Bank, under all but the most optimistic scenarios, poverty will remain in double digits by 2030 in Sub-Saharan Africa, unless there are significant shifts in policy.
According to the latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in September 2018, some 39 countries, 31 of which are in Africa, seven in Asia and one in the Caribbean (Haiti), are in need of external food assistance.
These high levels of severe food insecurity are driven by persistent conflicts and climate-related shocks, particularly in Southern African and Near-East countries, which continue to require humanitarian assistance, according to FAO.