Decreasing Global Poverty Rates, Increasing Challenges

Poverty elimination is a mission that’s far from complete

The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) predicted in 2013 that acute poverty could see a dramatic decrease within the next 20 years. OPHI, a division of Oxford University, released the findings in March 2013. The progress in poverty reduction achieved by nations like Nepal, Bangladesh, Bolivia and Rwanda was reported to be extremely positive. The World Bank (WB) too declared last year that poverty rates are on the decline like never before in human history. However, rapid increases in inflation rates and increasing degree of conflicts may prove to be big challenges for poverty reduction.

Rapid declines in poverty rates in the past decade

WB reported in April 2013 that global poverty rates had declined by nearly 17% in the last decade alone. It observed that by 2030, extreme poverty could be eliminated. However, it still reported that nearly 1.2 billion people live under the extreme poverty threshold of $1.25.

Challenges brought by inflation in basic items

The increases in food prices and fuel could counter the progress in global poverty reduction. With food now more expensive globally than ever before, the effort to reduce global poverty may face a setback. Oil prices have been consistently hovering above $100 since 2012. Price increases of gas and electricity could further increase the cost of production of many basic items. Thus, reducing the poverty rates throughout the world may be more difficult that anticipated if current inflationary trends continue.

Increasing degree of severe conflicts

Severe conflicts are emerging in different parts of the world. Syria, once a relatively prosperous country, is in a devastating situation with millions of people opting to be refugees rather than staying within the country. Similarly conflicts have been increasing in countries like Southern Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia and Mali. These conflicts have displaced millions of people from their homes. Thus, in 2013,  the unexpected rise in conflicts has driven millions of people into acute poverty. Serious global efforts are needed to ensure that these challenges are addressed.

Positive outlook

The progress reported lately in poverty reduction can indeed be regarded as positive. In spite of the challenges, there are fewer people sleeping hungry than any period in human history. If the emerging challenges are addressed globally then it would certainly be possible to eliminate global poverty completely within the coming decades.