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Pandemic pushes 80M more into poverty in developing Asia

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In photo: Retail fastfood chain in the Philippines is one of the affected industries in the country as they continue to experience business setback brought by the COVID19 pandemic

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is threatening Asia and the Pacific’s progress toward critical targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The pandemic pushed an estimated 75 million to 80 million more people in developing Asia1 into extreme poverty as of last year, compared with what would have happened without COVID-19, according to Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2021, released today. Assuming that the pandemic has increased inequality, the relative rise in extreme poverty—defined as living on less than $1.90 a day— maybe even greater. Progress has also stalled in areas such as hunger, health, and education, where earlier achievements across the region had been significant, albeit uneven.

Key Indicators presents comprehensive economic, financial, social, and environmental statistics for ADB’s 49 regional members. According to the report, about 203 million people or 5.2% of developing Asia’s population lived in extreme poverty as of 2017. Without COVID-19, that number would have declined to an estimated 2.6% in 2020.

“Asia and the Pacific has made impressive strides, but COVID-19 has revealed social and economic fault lines that may weaken the region’s sustainable and inclusive development,” said ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada. “To achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, decision-makers need to harness high-quality and timely data as a guide for actions to ensure that the recovery leaves no one behind—especially the poor and vulnerable.”

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