THE number of people living in extreme poverty around the world has sharply declined over the past three decades, but about 400 million children still live in such abysmal conditions, which needs urgent efforts to tackle, the World Bank said Thursday.
There was less than 721 million people living in extreme poverty in 2010—defined as under US$ 1.25 per day—compared to that in 1981, but a disproportionate number of children were among them, said the World Bank in a report released Thursday.
“We have witnessed an historic movement of people lifting themselves out of poverty over the past three decades, but the number of children living in poverty alone should leave no doubt that there remains much work to do,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.
“We can reach our goals of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity, including sharing that prosperity with future generations, but only if we work together with new urgency. Children should not be cruelly condemned to a life without hope, without good education, and without access to quality health care. We must do better for them,” said Kim.
While the reduction in poverty moved significantly in middle-income countries such as China and India, low-income countries showed much slower progress, the report said.
A total of 33 percent of the extreme poor lived in low-income countries in 2010, compared to 13 percent in 1981, noted the report released ahead of the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund scheduled to start Friday.
“The finding that over 400 million children live in extreme poverty and children are more likely to be poor than adults is disturbing, since this can exacerbate child labor and create inter-generational poverty traps,” Kaushik Basu, chief economist and senior vice president at the World Bank, said in the statement. “Hence, if we want to make a sustainable dent on global poverty, this is where we need to focus our attention.”
The report also found that the poor in 2010 were as bad off as they were in 1981, with the exception of India and China.
The “average” poor person in a low-income country lived on 78 cents a day in 2010, compared to 74 cents a day in 1981. But in India, the average income of the poor rose to 96 cents in 2010, compared to 84 cents in 1981, while China’s average poor’s income rose to 95 cents, compared to 67 cents, according to report.
“How can we in good conscience not do all we can to lift these children and their families out of extreme poverty? They can’t wait for progress to emerge slowly. They need our help today,” Kim said during a press conference Thursday. PNA