Oxfam: Half a billion people could sink into poverty from coronavirus crisis
The fallout from the coronavirus spread that has killed more than 83,000 people and wreaked havoc on economies around the world could push around half a billion people into poverty, Oxfam said on Thursday.
The report released by the Nairobi-based charity ahead of next week's International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank annual meeting calculated the impact of the crisis on global poverty due to shrinking household incomes or consumption.
"The economic crisis that is rapidly unfolding is deeper than the 2008 global financial crisis," the report found.
"The estimates show that, regardless of the scenario, global poverty could increase for the first time since 1990," it said, adding that this could throw some countries back to poverty levels last seen some three decades ago.
The report authors played through a number of scenarios, taking into account the World Bank's various poverty lines - from extreme poverty, defined as living on $1.90 a day or less, to higher poverty lines of living on less than $5.50 a day.
Under the most serious scenario - a 20% contraction in income - the number of people living in extreme poverty would rise by 434 million people to nearly 1.2 billion worldwide. The same scenario would see the number of people living below the $5.50 a day threshold rise by 548 million people to nearly 4 billion.
Women are at more risk than men, as they are more likely to work in the informal economy with little or no employment rights.
"Living day to day, the poorest people do not have the ability to take time off work, or to stockpile provisions," the report warned, adding that more than 2 billion informal sector workers worldwide had no access to sick pay.
The World Bank last week said poverty in East Asia and...