UN: 1 billion people could be in poverty by 2030 due to coronavirus

Worst-case scenario can be prevented by comprehensive action plan, UN says

Around 1 billion people, or a seventh of the world’s population, could be in poverty by 2030 if the response to the coronavirus pandemic is mishandled, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has warned.

Long term effects of the pandemic could push an additional 207 million into extreme poverty, the study found.

The findings were based on a ‘High Damage scenario’ which modelled that 80 per cent of the Covid-19-induced economic crises would persist in 10 years’ time due to loss in productivity, preventing a full recovery to the growth trajectory seen before the pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a tipping point, and the choices leaders take now could take the world in very different directions, said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, adding that they was still time to act to avoid such a calamity.

Investments in government services, social protection, the green economy and digitalisation would make extreme poverty less rampant, UNDP said.

Not only could such investments mitigate the global impact of the virus, but if allocated effectively, could create a better 2030 than what was projected before the pandemic broke out.

Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, already suffering from their own conflicts, are only some of places where the coronavirus has hit hardest. A grim combination of conflict, disease and a reduction in global trade flows has caused the world’s need for aid to grow by 40 per cent, the UN said earlier this week.

“The Covid-19 crisis has plunged millions of people into poverty and sent humanitarian needs skyrocketing,” UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said.

The UN will convene on Thursday to discuss how it could deliver the coronavirus vaccine to poorer nations while wealthier states such as the US, UK, France and Germany continue to place orders for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.

Developing nations like India and South Africa have been pushing for drug makers to share their intellectual property, allowing them to potentially manufacture their own vaccines.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed about 1.5 million people globally and infected more than 64 million. But the UN’s Covax plan to make vaccines available to everybody at little to no cost, remains underfunded.