Inflation pushed 71M people into poverty since the Ukraine war

More than 71 million more people around the world are experiencing poverty as a result of soaring food and energy prices that climbed in the weeks following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations Development Program said in a report Thursday.

The UNDP estimates that 51.6 million more people fell into poverty in the first three months after the war, living off $1.90 a day or less. This pushed the total number globally at this threshold to 9% of the world's population. An additional 20 million people slipped to the poverty line of $3.20 a day.

In low-income countries, families spend 42% of their household incomes on food but as Western nations moved to sanction Russia, the price of fuel and staple food items like wheat, sugar and cooking oil soared. Ukraine's blocked ports and its inability to export grains to low-income countries further drove up prices, pushing tens of millions quickly into poverty.

“The cost of living impact is almost without precedent in a generation... and that is why it is so serious,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said at the launch of the report.

Some of the countries hardest hit by inflation include Haiti, Argentina, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sudan, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. In countries like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Yemen, the impacts of inflation are even harder for those already at the lowest poverty line.

The total number of people living in poverty, or are vulnerable to poverty, stands at over 5 billion, or just under 70% of the world’s population.

There is a need for the global economy to step up, Steiner said, adding that there is enough wealth in the world to manage the crisis, “but our ability to act in unison and rapidly is a constraint”.

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