COVID-19 can push 60 million people into extreme poverty: World Bank
Updated 21:36, 20-May-2020

The head of the World Bank cautioned on Tuesday that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to push up to 60 million people into extreme poverty (under 1.90 U.S. dollars per day), wiping out the gains made in recent years.

"The pandemic and shutdown of advanced economies could push as many as 60 million people into extreme poverty, erasing much of the recent progress made in poverty alleviation," said World Bank Group President David Malpass. 

Malpass said the World Bank is financing aid programs in 100 developing countries, home to 70 percent of the world's population, under the body's commitment to spend 160 billion U.S. dollars in grants and financial support over the next 15 months to help developing countries respond to COVID-19 impact and economic shutdown in advanced countries.

The Bank revealed that of the 100 countries, 39 are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly one-third of the total projects are in fragile and conflict-affected situations, such as Afghanistan, Chad, Haiti, and Niger. It said that disbursements already underway include a 20-million-U.S.-dollar IDA grant for Haiti, 20 million U.S. dollars to Senegal and 35 million U.S. dollars to Ghana.

World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) provides loans for the world's 76 poorest countries.

Read more: How coronavirus adds fuel to fire in vulnerable African regions

The bank said that apart from grants, loans and equity investment, it will also suspend bilateral debt service.

"The bilateral debt-service suspension being offered will free up crucial resources for IDA countries to fund emergency responses to COVID-19," said Malpass.

(Cover: A participant stands near a logo of World Bank at the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Annual Meeting 2018 in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 12, 2018. /Reuters)