Not only has the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to complete halt but also instilled fears of large-scale unemployment and poverty.
The global outbreak has so far killed over 83,000 people and wreaked havoc on economies around the world; and could push around half a billion people into poverty, said Oxfam.
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 study found that under the most serious scenario – a 20 per cent 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 at more risk than men
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 the Pacific region alone could increase by 11 million people if conditions worsened.
It proposed the governments around the world would need to mobilise at least $2.5 trillion to support developing nations.