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68 million in Asia pushed into extreme poverty by pandemic and inflation.

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According to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the coronavirus pandemic and rising cost of living have resulted in nearly 70 million more people in developing Asia falling into extreme poverty. This has hindered efforts to alleviate deprivation in the region. The report states that as of last year, an estimated 155.2 million people in developing Asia, accounting for 3.9% of the population, lived in extreme poverty, which is 67.8 million more than if the health and cost-of-living crises had not occurred. Developing Asia includes 46 economies in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

ADB Chief Economist Albert Park commented on the report, stating that while Asia and the Pacific are gradually recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis is impeding progress in poverty elimination. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $2.15 a day, based on 2017 figures. The report highlights that the increase in inflation last year, driven by economic activity recovery and supply chain disruptions, has adversely affected everyone, particularly the poor, who have to spend more on food and fuel, making it difficult to save money and afford essential needs such as healthcare and education.

The ADB report emphasizes the importance of strengthening social safety nets for the poor and promoting investment and innovation that creates opportunities for growth and employment. The report also noted that although developing Asia is expected to achieve a 4.8% growth this year compared to the previous year’s 4.2% expansion, about 30.3% of the region’s population, roughly 1.26 billion people, will still be considered economically vulnerable by 2030. Consequently, addressing poverty and economic vulnerability in the region remains a significant challenge for governments and policymakers.

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