More than 70 million people are now in poverty due to inflation: UN

Dubai, United Arab Emirates –

A staggering 71 million more people around the world are living in poverty as a result of soaring food and energy prices in the weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations Program said on Thursday. United for Development in a report.

The UNDP estimates that 51.6 million more people he fell into poverty in the first three months after the war, living on $1.90 a day or less. This brought the total number globally at this threshold to 9% of the world population. Another 20 million people fell below the poverty line of $3.20 a day.

In low-income countries, families spend 42% of their household income on food, but as Western nations moved to sanction Russia, the price of fuel and staples such as wheat, sugar and cooking oil soared. Ukraine’s blockaded ports and its inability to export grain to low-income countries further increased prices, quickly pushing tens of millions into poverty.

“The cost-of-living impact is almost unprecedented in a generation…and that’s why it’s so severe,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said at the report’s launch.

The speed at which so many people experienced poverty outweighed the economic pain felt at the peak of the pandemic. The UNDP noted that 125 million people lived in poverty for about 18 months during the pandemic lockdowns and closures, compared to more than 71 million in just three months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.

“The speed of this is very fast,” said George Molina, UNDP chief economist and author of the report.

Some of the countries most affected by inflation are Haiti, Argentina, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Philippines, Rwanda, Sudan, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. In countries like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, and Yemen, the impacts of inflation are even harsher for those already at the lowest poverty line.

The total number of people living in poverty, or vulnerable to poverty, exceeds 5 billion, or just under 70% of the world’s population.

Another UN report released on Wednesday said world hunger rose last year with 2.3 billion people facing moderate to severe difficulty getting enough to eat, and that was before the war in Ukraine.

The global economy needs to intensify, Steiner said, adding that there is enough wealth in the world to handle the crisis, “but our ability to act in unison and quickly is a limitation.”

UNDP recommends that instead of spending billions on blanket energy subsidies, governments target spending to reach the most affected people through targeted cash transfers that can prevent an additional 52.6 million people from falling into poverty. poverty at $5.50 a day.

For cash-strapped and debt-laden developing countries to achieve this, UNDP called for an extension of debt payments that had been made during the pandemic among the world’s wealthiest nations.

Steiner said doing so is not just an act of charity, but also “an act of rational self-interest” to prevent other complex trends, such as economic collapse in countries and popular protests already taking place in communities around the world.

The war in Ukraine has rocked a region known as the breadbasket of the world. Before the war, Russia was the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of crude oil. Russia and Ukraine combined accounted for nearly a quarter of world wheat exports and more than half of sunflower oil exports.

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