World Bank deplores rising poverty, urges concrete action
Development is reversing in many countries and it is threatening people’s lives, jobs, livelihoods and sustenance, President o f the World Bank Group, David Malpass, has stressed.
Speaking in Sudan, yesterday, Malpasss said poverty “is rising while living standards and literacy rates are falling in many parts of the world.”
He added that past gains on gender equality, nutrition and health were sliding.
He expressed anxiety over the unsustainable debts of some nations, which have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Malpass stressed that the poor are being left behind in a global tragedy of inequality, noting: “This drastic narrowing of economic and social progress is creating a time of upheaval in economics, politics and geopolitical relationships.
“While some advanced economies are providing trillions of dollars in spending programmes and central bank asset purchases, low-income countries are facing high inflation, too few jobs, a shortage of vaccines and food, and the high cost of adapting to climate challenges that they did not create.”
To reverse the trend, he said, the world needed strong new approaches suited for the very challenging times.
“We need to refocus our efforts, set clear priorities by measuring what works and what doesn’t, and rapidly scale up successes,” he said.
According to the World Bank chief, the COVID-19 crisis has increased poverty rates after decades of steady decline.
He observed that the virus had pushed nearly 100 million people into extreme poverty, with several hundred million more becoming poor.
Malpass hinted that human capital accumulation stalled, with most schools closing for months, even years, and some have still not reopened.
On the negative impacts of the pandemic, he stated: “The crisis also imposed a heavy toll on firms and governments. Business closures skyrocketed and many firms that remained active are now over-indebted or in arrears. Governments have run large fiscal deficits, often pushing the public debt to dangerously high levels that require especially careful investment decisions by both the public and private sectors.”
In the despair scenario, Malpass sees positivity on the horizon, when he said that the crisis has also brought unprecedented transformation.
To get out of the doldrums, he said the world needs a stronger focus on key priorities, with clarity on how global leaders approach and measure them.
He added that the globe also needed a much bigger scale to achieve impact.