Manila, Aug 25: The increased cost-of-living crisis sparked by surging inflation last year, combined with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, is continuing to push people in Asia and the Pacific into extreme poverty, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
An estimated 155.2 million people in developing Asia and the Pacific, or 3.9 per cent of the region’s population, lived in extreme poverty as of last year, according to Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2023, released by ADB on Thursday.
ADB report said the number is 67.8 million greater than it would have been without the pandemic and the increased cost of living crisis.
Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than USD 2.15 a day, based on 2017 prices and adjusted for purchasing power and inflation.
“Asia and the Pacific is steadily recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the increased cost-of-living crisis is undermining progress toward eliminating poverty,” said ADB Chief Economist Albert Park.
“By strengthening social safety nets for the poor and fostering investment and innovation that creates opportunities for growth and employment, governments in the region can get back on track,” Park said.
Poor people have been hurt the most by the increased cost-of-living crisis, as they are less able to pay higher prices for necessities such as food and fuel.
Increases in the price of basic goods and services leave many poor people unable to save money, pay for health care, or invest in education and other opportunities that can improve their condition in the longer term, the report said.
Not only do the poor earn less income—they also pay a premium to access many essential goods and services while being forced to make choices that can be more expensive in the long term, the report noted. For instance, it cited an example saying low-income households often have to buy commodities in smaller quantities, which may be more expensive than buying in bulk.