ISLAMABAD: The increased cost-of-living crisis sparked by surging inflation last year, combined with the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, is continuing to push people in Asia and the Pacific into extreme poverty, according to a new report released by the Asian Development Bank.

An estimated 155.2 million people in developing Asia and the Pacific, or 3.9 per cent of the region’s population, lived in extreme poverty as of last year, according to the Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2023 report of the ADB.

The number is 67.8 million greater than it would have been without the pandemic and the increased cost of living crisis, according to the report.

Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $2.15 a day, based on 2017 prices and adjusted for purchasing power and inflation.

The ADB estimated in 2021 that the pandemic had pushed an additional 75 million to 80 million people into extreme poverty as of the previous year, compared with pre-pandemic projections. Extreme poverty was then defined as living on less than $1.90 a day based on 2011 prices.

Economies in developing Asia and the Pacific are projected to continue making progress against poverty. Nonetheless, by 2030, an estimated 30.3 per cent of the region’s population — or about 1.26 billion people — will still be considered economically vulnerable, defined as living on $3.65 to $6.85 a day, based on 2017 prices.

“Asia and the Pacific is steadily recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, but the increased cost-of-living crisis is undermining progress toward eliminating poverty,” said ADB Chief Economist Albert Park.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2023

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