A new poverty map
BY 2025, most of the world’s poorest people will live in fragile and conflict-affected states in Africa, posing challenges to aid donors who have usually focused on helping well-governed countries, according to a new report.
Horizon 2025, published by the Overseas Development Institute, says global poverty has declined sharply and will continue to do so in middle-income countries (MICs) such as India and Vietnam.
As a result, even though currently MICs may have more poor people than the world’s poorest countries, this will be a temporary phenomenon. By 2025, the number of poor people in MICs could be as low as 100 million out of a global total of 560 million.
A consequence of the dramatic fall in the number of poor people is that the notional cost of eradicating poverty has fallen in absolute terms, and even more so as a share of industrialised country income. The report says the poverty gap looks “affordable” at only one-third of one per cent of global GDP.
The report estimates the poverty gap to be $166bn by 2025, of which $35bn could be filled by the domestic resources of recipient countries, leaving $131bn to come from the rich OECD Development Assistance Committee.
Falling poverty numbers coupled with aid increases since 2002 mean official development assistance per poor person has started to rise sharply, reaching $80 per poor person in 2010 with an inexorable upward trend, according to the report. By 2025, official aid could rise to more than $300 per poor person a year.
“In a world where there are far fewer absolutely poor people, it will be a challenge to sustain taxpayer support for aid,” said Andrew Rogerson, co-author of the report.
“The paradox is that as the end-goal of eliminating poverty comes closer, in practice the deep-rooted difficulties of the weakest states could become harder both to tackle and to raise money for. That’s why we are challenging aid donors now to think about how they will need to have evolved by 2025.”
Rogerson argues that those countries and institutions that have focused on MICs will have to change tack. Countries such as Japan and Spain risk becoming irrelevant as donors using the report’s traffic light approach. They fall into the red light category, having focused their development efforts on non-fragile, low poverty gap countries when in future, Africa will require the biggest aid effort.
Those best-positioned in a world where fragile states will be the focus of development include Canada, Sweden, Portugal and institutions such as the African Development Bank and Gavi, the public-private partnership on vaccines, according to the report. — The Guardian, London