Extreme poverty to fall below 10 per cent, advancing towards UN goal by 2030 – World Bank

A slum area in Cambodia. Photo: World Bank/Masaru Goto

5 October 2015 – The World Bank announced today that extreme poverty is likely to fall to below 10 per cent this year, “giving fresh evidence that a quarter-century-long sustained reduction in poverty is moving the world closer to the historic goal of ending poverty by 2030” – echoing a top goal set by the newly-agreed United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda.

“This is the best story in the world today – these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President.

The World Bank explained that it uses an updated international poverty line of $1.90 a day, which incorporates new information on differences in the cost of living across countries and preserves the real purchasing power of the previous line of $1.25 a day in 2005 prices in the world’s poorest countries.

Based on the new line, the World Bank projects that global poverty will have fallen from 902 million people – or 12.8 per cent of the global population in 2012 – to 702 million people, or 9.6 per cent of the global population, this year.

“This new forecast of poverty falling into the single digits should give us new momentum and help us focus even more clearly on the most effective strategies to end extreme poverty,” the World Bank chief said.

Ending poverty is the top goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted on 25 September by the 193-Member United Nations General Assembly, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed as “an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms – an agenda for the planet, our common home.”

Mr. Kim echoed the UN chief’s optimism, saying that “the world stands a vastly better chance of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and raising the life prospects of low-income families but the World Bank chief also cautioned that the work ahead “will be extraordinarily hard.”

The World Bank forecast noted that poverty remains concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“For the last several decades, three regions, East Asia and Pacific, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, have accounted for some 95 per cent of global poverty,” according to the World Bank, which noted that today, “poverty is declining in all regions but it is becoming deeper and more entrenched in countries that are either conflict ridden or overly dependent on commodity exports.”

“The growing concentration of global poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern,” it said.

In its regional forecasts for 2015, the World Bank said that poverty in East Asia and the Pacific would fall to 4.1 per cent of its population, down from 7.2 per cent in 2012; Latin America and the Caribbean would fall to 5.6 per cent from 6.2 in 2012; South Asia would fall to 13.5 per cent in 2015, compared to 18.8 per cent in 2012; Sub-Saharan Africa declines to 35.2 per cent in 2015, compared to 42.6 per cent in 2012.

And the Bank noted that “reliable current poverty data is not available for the Middle East and North Africa because of conflict and fragility in key countries in the region.”

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