Asia’s poor grew by 68 million people after pandemic, report says

More than 155 million people were living on less than $2.15 a day last year, Asian Development Bank says.

The COVID-19 pandemic and related living costs increases have had a serious impact on poverty in developing Asia [File: Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]

Nearly 70 million more people lived in extreme poverty in developing Asian countries last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising living costs, a Philippines-based development bank has said.

More than 155 million people suffered from extreme poverty in developing Asia in 2022, 67.8 million more than if the pandemic had not occurred, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a report released on Thursday.

The ADB estimated in 2021 that an extra 75-80 million people had been pushed into extreme poverty in the region during the previous year, compared with pre-pandemic estimates.

Extreme poverty is defined by the World Bank as living on less than $2.15 a day, based on 2017 prices and adjusted for inflation.

Despite expectations of continued progress in reducing poverty, an estimated 30.3 percent of the region’s population – some 1.26 billion people – are expected to be living on $3.65-$6.85 a day by 2030, the ADB said.

The Manila-based developed bank recommended that governments in developing Asia – which covers 46 economies across the region – strengthen social welfare, improve access to financial services, invest in infrastructure and support technological innovation, among other remedies.

“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 creates opportunities for growth and employment, governments in the region can get back on track.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies