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Inflation, COVID-19 pushed 68 million more people into extreme poverty: Report

An increase in cost of living due to surging inflation and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed nearly 68 million more people into extreme poverty in Asia.

Also pushed into poverty is the Pacific, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Thursday.

An estimated 155.2 million people in Asia and the Pacific or 3.9 per cent of the region’s population were living in extreme poverty, those surviving on less than $2.15 a day, as of 2022, according to the key indicators report of the Manila-based bank.

The number was 67.8 million higher than it would have been without the pandemic and soaring inflation.

“Asia and the Pacific is steadily recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the increased cost-of-living crisis is undermining progress toward eliminating poverty,’’ ADB chief economist Albert Park said.

“By strengthening social safety nets for the poor and fostering investment and innovation that created opportunities for growth and employment, governments in the region can get back on track,’’ he added.

Inflation surged to record levels in most countries around the world last year due to disruptions in food and energy markets.

“Poor people were hurt the most because they have to spend more for basic necessities such as food and fuel, leaving them unable to save money. They paid for health care and invested in education,” the ADB report said.

It noted that women “may have also been disproportionately affected, as they tend to earn less than men while also being subject to unpaid work.”

(dpa/NAN)

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