Roughly a quarter billion more people could be living on less than $1.90 a day by the end of this year due to Covid-19, rising global inequality and the shock of food price increases that have been supercharged by the war in Ukraine, a new report by Oxfam has found.
The report projected that rising global food prices alone will push 65 million more people into extreme poverty in 2022. That’s in addition to the 198 million extreme poor the World Bank predicted earlier this year, pushing the total expectation to 263 million. The number at risk of crashing into such levels of poverty is equivalent to the combined populations of the UK, Germany, France and Spain.
“Without immediate radical action, we could be witnessing the most profound collapse of humanity into extreme poverty and suffering in memory,” said Gabriela Bucher, Oxfam International’s executive director.
“This terrifying prospect is made more sickening by the fact that trillions of dollars have been captured by a tiny group of powerful men who have no interest in interrupting this trajectory,” she added.
The report also states that “entire countries are being forced deeper into poverty” as Covid-19 has depleted their financial reserves and they are pushed into austerity measures.
Were enough governments willing to increase taxes on the richest, starting with a 2% annual wealth tax on millionaires and 5% on billionaires, it would be enough to “lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower middle-income countries,” the report said.
“We reject any notion that governments do not have the money or means to lift all people out of poverty and hunger and ensure their health and welfare. We only see the absence of economic imagination and political will to actually do so,” Bucher said.