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15 MAR 2012

Oxfam Hong Kong responds to World Bank statistics on poverty

The World Bank recently published a statement that for the first time in the Bank’s monitoring of extreme poverty, the number of people living in absolute poverty has declined in every region of the developing world.

In the statement, the Bank declared that the first Millennium Development Goal – to halve extreme poverty in the developing world by 2015 – has been met three years ahead of time. The Goal was created by the United Nations in 2000.

John Sayer, Director General of Oxfam Hong Kong, remarked that, “The news may seem promising, but in fact, severe poverty remains: 1.29 billion people in developing countries (22%) live on less than US$1.25 a day and 2.47 billion (43%) live on $2 a day. In Oxfam Hong Kong project sites, the proportion may be 60, 80 or even 100% - every single child, woman and man still faces poverty each day. It is important to remember that behind each statistic is a human life – every person matters, every number counts.”

The World Bank statistics are based from 2008, the latest date for which a global figure can be calculated, but post-2008 analysis by the World Bank reveals that while the food, fuel and financial crises all affected poor people in many countries, the rate of poverty still continued to fall, though more slowly.

A regional breakdown reveals that in 2008:
East Asia and Pacific: About 14% of the population in extreme poverty
China: 13% in extreme poverty
South Asia: 36% in extreme poverty, the lowest rate since 1981
Sub-Saharan Africa: For the first time since 1981, less than half of the population (47%) in extreme poverty