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Coronavirus could create 'poverty tsunami’

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BANGKOK (News.Com.Au/Pacnews) — As many as 240 million more people in Australia's region could be forced to live off less than A$9 a day because of the coronavirus.


The potential impact of the global pandemic on East Asia and the Pacific has been laid bare in fresh analysis published by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research.
Aid activists hope the data will motivate the Australian government to further help its neighbors grapple with the fallout of Covid-19.
The research has estimated how a dip in household income per capita or consumption of five, 10 or 20% would affect the number of people living below the international poverty lines of U.S.$1.90, U.S.$3.20 and U.S.$5.50 per day in the short-term.
In East Asia and the Pacific, including China, Indonesia, the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea, about 710.6 million people are currently living below the upper poverty line of U.S.$5.50.
The analysis estimates if global household income or spending takes a 5% hit, there could be 53.7 million more people in that position.
A 10% hit would lift that by 111 million, while a 20% hit would mean 239.8 million more people in poverty.
Globally, under a 20% hit, the number of people living off less than U.S.$5.50 a day — currently about 3.4 billion — could rise by about 547.6 million.
That is equivalent to about 8% of the global population.
The numbers were crunched by researchers at King's College London, Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez and Andy Sumner, and the Australian National University's Chris Hoy.
“We were surprised at the sheer scale of the potential poverty tsunami that could follow Covid-19 in developing countries,” Professor Sumner said.
“Our findings point towards the importance of a dramatic expansion of social safety nets in developing countries as soon as possible and, more broadly, much greater attention to the impact of Covid in developing countries and what the international community can do to help.”
Oxfam Australia has called on the Australian government to do its bit by contributing A$84 million (U.S.$54 million) to the United Nations 'Global Response Plan.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia is “acutely aware” of the challenge Covid-19 poses to the systems of some countries, particularly those which are less developed.
There are countries in Australia's region with fragile health systems and who rely heavily on tourism, which has come to a halt, she said.
“In some of the work we have done in re-prioritizing our assistance, we are...providing support to some of those countries,” she told reporters on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has discussed the need to support developing countries in recent conversations with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
He has also told Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape Australia is continuing to emphasize to the G20, WHO and IMF the need for strong international community support for the Pacific.

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