Covid-19 May Push 29mln Africans to Extreme Poverty in 2021

ADDIS ABABA – The UN Economic Commission for Africa has warned that COVID19 pandemic could push up to 29 million people below the extreme poverty line in 2021 alone.

Before the pandemic, income disparities were on the rise across the region. It also said, while extreme poverty had almost vanished in North Africa, more than 50% of the population in Central Africa lived below the extreme poverty line.

About nine out of ten extremely poor people in the world currently live in Africa, according to UN ECA, adding this could increase further due to COVID-19 pandemic fallout.

In a statement Tuesday, the ECA said COVID19 will push an additional 5 to 29 million below the extreme poverty line.

“If the impact of the pandemic is not limited by 2021, an additional 59 million people could suffer the same fate, which would bring the total number of extremely poor Africans to 514 million people,” the statement said.

Africa continues to experience disparities in universal access to energy, electricity and even clean fuels and technologies for cooking.

Reports say the continent has made progress towards the emission reduction target and have managed to increase the proportion of key biodiversity areas by 4.5% between 2010 and 2020.

The region has, however, remained vulnerable to climate change with limited response capability, according to experts.

This has been fueled by a loss of an average of 3.9 million hectares of forest per year between 2010 and 2020 due to population growth, poverty and agricultural expansion.

Faced with these difficulties, ECA experts have suggested several strategies to speed up the African recovery including establishing and strengthening of social protection systems for sustainable poverty reduction.

They also urged for emphasis on improved environment through sustainable extraction policies and use of natural resources; and investing in modern and digital technologies to increase productivity and encourage innovation, among others

In order to finance these efforts, the ECA experts recommended the use of a coordinated multilateral approach to debt relief, debt restructuring and development financing as well as domestic resource mobilization.