The coronavirus pandemic could push half a billion people globally into poverty, the charity Oxfam has warned.
A report from the Nairobi-based charity looked at the impact the crisis will have on global poverty because of shrinking household incomes or consumption, DailyMail reported.
It found, “The economic crisis that is rapidly unfolding is deeper than the 2008 global financial crisis. The estimates show that, regardless of the scenario, global poverty could increase for the first time since 1990.”
The report added this could mean some countries revert to poverty levels last seen three decades ago.
Report authors explored a number of scenarios to assess how poverty levels could change.
The most serious scenario would result in a 20% squeeze on incomes.
It would mean the number of people living in extreme poverty – $1.90 a day or less – would rise by a staggering 434 million, to nearly 1.2 billion people worldwide
Women are at much greater risk than men because they are more likely to work in the informal economy with little or no employment rights.
Under the same scenario, those living in higher poverty, $5.50 or less, would jump by 548 million to almost four billion people.
The report warned: “Living day to day, the poorest people do not have the ability to take time off work, or to stockpile provisions.”
It added that more than two billion informal sector workers worldwide had no access to sick pay.
The World Bank said last week that poverty in East Asia and the Pacific region alone could increase by 11 million people if conditions worsened.
Oxfam has proposed a six point action plan that would deliver cash grants and bailouts to people and businesses in need.
The charity also called for debt cancellation, more International Monetary Fund support, and increased aid.
Taxing wealth, extraordinary profits, and speculative financial products would help raise the funds needed, Oxfam added.
Calls for debt relief have increased in recent weeks as the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has roiled developing nations around the world.
In total, governments around the world would need to mobilize at least $2.5 trillion to support developing nations.
The report said: “Rich countries have shown that at this time of crisis they can mobilize trillions of dollars to support their own economies. Yet unless developing countries are also able to fight the health and economic impacts the crisis will continue and it will inflict even greater harm on all countries, rich and poor.”
Globally nearly 1.5 million cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed, with close to 90,000 deaths recorded.