Poverty is everywhere; no country on Earth is immune, but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. The United Nations tracks many measures of hardship around the globe. Their figures on multidimensional poverty—not just lacking money, but lacking access to things like healthcare, clean water, and other resources—are stark and illuminating. As of 2022, 1.2 billion people across 111 developing countries live in acute multidimensional poverty, the UN reports. While this is a pressing global problem, some countries have made great strides in combatting multidimensional poverty in the past decade: India has lifted 271 million of its population out of poverty.
These figures were illuminated by the 2019 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) released by the United Nations Development Program )UNDP). In 2005/2006, 640 million people in India were in multidimensional poverty. This includes considerations of electricity access, toilet facilities, work conditions, and other quality-of-life indicators. By 2016/2017, the numbers had fallen to 365.55 million. According to UNICEF, this is likely in part due to massive government initiatives to expand access to electricity and improve water and waste sanitation across the country.
Seventy-two other countries have made strides in recent years, such as Bangladesh. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused great worries among experts as it has impeded vaccination programs, caused interruptions of schooling, and stalled many other projects. Like with all disasters, the pandemic hit the most vulnerable hard. The World Bank found the pandemic pushed 97 million extra people into poverty in 2020.
As pandemic restrictions subside, climate remains a pressing concern for global poverty levels. Food supplies and climate crises are top threats to global food security. More frequent hurricanes, floods, and rising sea levels will also hit the poorest nations the hardest. Luckily, the UN still has hope that they can help lift 100 million people out of poverty. Achim Steiner, the head of UNDP, says, “Decarbonization and expanding access to clean energies will advance climate action, and is also critical for nearly 600 million multidimensionally poor people who still lack access to electricity and clean cooking fuel.” In the multi-dimensional war on global poverty, the fight to save the planet can play a vital role.