Rising food prices, increased energy costs due to the Ukraine war, and the Covid-19 pandemic could push more than a quarter of a billion more people into extreme poverty this year. These are the grim projections published by Oxfam. The charity warns that as many as 860 million people could be living in extreme poverty, or on less than 1.75 euros a day, by the end of 2022.
The number of those pushed into extreme poverty equals the amount of people living in the UK, France, Germany and Spain combined. Africa, Asia and Latin America are the most impacted areas.
The ongoing impact of Covid-19 is the main cause of this increase in extreme poverty. Its effect was exacerbated by rising food prices, which have skyrocketed after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Oxfam says rising food costs will impact wealthier economies, including the U.S. where the poorest fifth of families spend 27% of their income on food. But the crunch will be felt by the poorest in countries such as Peru and Mozambique where the lowest incomes spend up to 60% on food.
The world-wide charity says that two decades of progress are in danger of being reversed as the Ukraine conflict pushes up prices and impedes exports of vital commodities. Itsuggests that debt payments for developing countries should be cancelled to help those in need, while an annual wealth tax on the richest could help tackle extreme poverty.
This report was released just a few days after 11 humanitarian organizations including Oxfam, warned about West Africa's worst food crisis in a decade.