Every year in October, the world marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, also known as End Poverty Day.
This year, the day’s theme puts a spotlight on decent work and social protection, putting dignity in practice for all. Rising debt positions across economies and challenges in accessing financial services have contributed rising poverty levels globally.
The World Bank says that ending poverty remains a major global challenge. Today, almost 700 million people around the world live in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than $2.15 per day. After decades of sustained poverty reduction, a period of overlapping shocks and crises resulted in around three years of lost progress between 2020 and 2022.
A great finance divide and growing debt burdens are severely limiting the capacities of many developing countries to provide the services that their people need.
“Too many people are being left behind in the journey to a more prosperous future.
Much of this is linked to strained economies and limited fiscal space in the countries where they live,” said Under-Secretary-General Li Junhua, Head of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “The international community needs to do a better job of creating the space for developing countries to better support the needs of their citizens.”
The bank explained that at current rates of progress, the world will likely not meet the global goal of ending extreme poverty by 2023, with estimates indicating that nearly 600 million people will still be struggling with extreme poverty then.
Extreme poverty is concentrated in places where it will be hardest to eradicate— among the least developed countries, in conflict-affected areas, and in remote, rural areas. The outlook is also grim for the nearly 50 percent of the world’s population who live on less than $6.85 a day – the measure used for upper-middle-income countries.
“Ending poverty is a challenge that requires a multifaceted approach,” says Luis-Felipe Lopez-Calva, World Bank Global Director for Poverty & Equity. “Countries cannot adequately address poverty and inequality without also improving people’s well-being, including through more equitable access to health, education and basic infrastructure.
Empowering women, girls and youth will maximize impact across communities and generations. Policy makers must intensify efforts to grow their economies while protecting the most vulnerable people and families. This includes strengthening investments in social protection systems.”
Regular employment provides individuals and families with an essential source of income and allows them to move up the economic ladder, build wealth, and invest in education, health and nutrition that help to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. It also provides them with the dignity of work.
Yet most working-age people in developing countries work in informal, low-productivity, low-paying, and insecure jobs; women, girls, and the elderly are overrepresented in these jobs.
The bank explained that with nearly four million young people expected to reach working age every month globally until 2030, countries need to focus on creating good, quality jobs in the formal sector, which often come with benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and social security coverage.
Expanding access to better educational opportunities for children and youth can equip them with the skills they need to compete for good jobs in the future.
But creating this enabling environment at the country level will also call for concerted efforts for a more supportive global environment.