Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined from 36 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent in 2015. But the pace of change is decelerating and the COVID-19 crisis risks reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty. New research published by the UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research warns that the economic fallout from the global pandemic could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people, or 8% of the total human population. This would be the first time that poverty has increased globally in thirty years, since 1990.
More than 700 million people, or 10 per cent of the world population, still live in extreme poverty today, struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. The majority of people living on less than $1.90 a day live in sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide, the poverty rate in rural areas is 17.2 per cent—more than three times higher than in urban areas.
For those who work, having a job does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, 8 per cent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2018. One out of five children live in extreme poverty. Ensuring social protection for all children and other vulnerable groups is critical to reduce poverty.
MD. Mazharul Islam
What’s the goal here?
To end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030.
More than 700 million people, or 10% of the world population, still live in extreme poverty and is struggling to fulfill the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. The majority of people living on less than $1.90 a day live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Worldwide, the poverty rate in rural areas is 17.2 per cent—more than three times higher than in urban areas.
Having a job does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, 8 per cent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2018.
Poverty affects children disproportionately. One out of five children live in extreme poverty. Ensuring social protection for all children and other vulnerable groups is critical to reduce poverty.
Why is there so much poverty in the world?
Poverty has many dimensions, but its causes include unemployment, social exclusion, and high vulnerability of certain populations to disasters, diseases and other phenomena which prevent them from being productive.
I’m not poor. Why should I care about other people’s economic situation?
There are many reasons, but in short, because as human beings, our well-
being is linked to each other. Growing inequality is detrimental to economic growth and undermines social cohesion, increasing political and social tensions and, in some circumstances, driving instability and conflicts.
Can we actually achieve this goal?
Yes. To end extreme poverty worldwide in 20 years, economist Jeffrey Sachs calculated that the total cost per year would be about $175 billion. This represents less than one percent of the combined income of the richest countries in the world.
So what can I do about it?
Your active engagement in policymaking can make a difference in addressing poverty. It ensures that your rights are promoted and that your voice is heard, that
inter-generational knowledge is shared, and that innovation and critical thinking are encouraged at all ages to support transformational change in people’s lives and communities.
Governments can help create an enabling environment to generate productive employment and job opportunities for the poor and the marginalized. They can formulate strategies and fiscal policies that stimulate pro-poor growth, and reduce poverty.
The private sector, as an engine of economic growth, has a major role to play in determining whether the growth it creates is inclusive and hence contributes to poverty reduction. It can promote economic opportunities for the poor, focusing on segments of the economy where most of the poor are active, namely on micro and small enterprises and those operating in the informal sector.
The academic and education community have a major role in increasing the awareness about the impact of poverty. Science provides the foundation for new and sustainable approaches, solutions and technologies to tackle the challenges of reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development. The contribution of science to end poverty has been significant. For example, it has enabled access to safe drinking water, reduced deaths caused by water-borne diseases, and improved hygiene to reduce health risks related to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation.
To find out more about Goal #1 and other Sustainable Development Goals visit:
Target 1.1 By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day
Indicator 1.1.1 Proportion of population below the international poverty line, by sex, age, employment status and geographical location (urban/rural)
Target 1.2 By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women, and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions
Indicator 1.2.1 Proportion of population living below the national poverty line, by sex and age
Indicator 1.2.2 Proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions
Target 1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable
Indicator 1.3.1 Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems, by sex, distinguishing children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable
Target 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
Indicator 1.4.1 Proportion of population living in households with access to basic services
Indicator 1.4.2 Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure
Target 1.5 By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters
Indicator 1.5.1 Number of deaths, missing persons and persons affected by disaster per 100,000 people
Indicator 1.5.2 Direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP)
Indicator 1.5.3 Number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies
Target 1.A Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions
Indicator 1.A.1 Proportion of resources allocated by the government directly to poverty reduction programmes
Indicator 1.A.2 Proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection)
Target 1.B Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions
Indicator 1.B.1 Proportion of government recurrent and capital spending to sectors that disproportionately benefit women, the poor and vulnerable groups
Indicators reported on in the Voluntary National Review
1.2.1 Proportion of population below the national poverty line
1.3.1 Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems
1.4.1 Proportion of population living in households with access to basic services
1.4.2 Proportion of titled land, percent coverage of land information system, proportion of land titles issued by type (region, gender, and rural/urban, and percentage change in the number of land titles registered (sex, region and rural/urban)
1.5.1 Number of deaths, missing persons, and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 people
The Way Forward