The COVID-19 pandemic represents a “double crisis” for the poorest

“For the poorest people in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic represents a double crisis,” warned this Saturday the General secretary in his official message for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

António Guterres explained that the poorest people are those who are most at risk of contracting the virus and those with the least access to quality health care.

In addition, the latest estimates indicate that this year the pandemic could plunge 115 million people into poverty, which would mean the first increase in decades. Women are more at risk because they are more likely to lose their jobs and less likely to enjoy social protection.

“We are living in extraordinary times that require extraordinary efforts to fight poverty. The pandemic calls for strong collective action. Governments must accelerate economic transformation by investing in an ecological and sustainable recovery, ”Guterres said.

The UN head said that a new generation of social protection programs is necessary that also covers people who work in the informal economy.

“We will only be able to overcome this pandemic if we make common cause. On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let us stand in solidarity with people living in poverty, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but also after it, ”he concluded.

ONU Vibhu Mishra

A man carrying a bundle in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Social and environmental justice

This year, the theme of the International Day addresses the challenge of achieving social and environmental justice for all people. Both elements are inseparably intertwined, social justice cannot be fully realized without simultaneously and drastically addressing environmental injustices.

People living in extreme poverty, often out of sheer necessity, are the first to take concrete action within their communities against climate change and environmental challenges.

However, their efforts and expertise often go unnoticed and unappreciated; their ability to contribute positively to the search for solutions is not taken into account; they are not recognized as drivers of change and their voices are not heard, especially in international bodies.

According to the UN, this has to change. The participation, knowledge, contributions and experience of people living in poverty and those left behind must be valued, respected, and reflected in efforts to build an equitable and sustainable world in which there is social and environmental justice for all people.


© UNICEF / Andrea Campeanu

Poverty in Juba, South Sudan.

Facts about poverty

  • Some 736 million people lived on less than $ 1.90 a day in 2015.
  • In 2018, 8% of workers around the world lived with their families on less than $ 1.90 per person per day.
  • Most of the people living below the poverty line are found in two regions: South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • High rates of poverty are often found in small, fragile and conflict-affected countries.
  • In 2018, 55% of the world’s population did not have access to any cash-based welfare programs.

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