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  • 1.07 billion people are living under the typical international poverty lines of $1.90; $3.20; and $5.50 a day.

    1.07 billion people are living under the typical international poverty lines of $1.90; $3.20; and $5.50 a day. | Photo: AFP/ Gerado Caso Bizama

Published 23 July 2020
Opinion

Up to 100 million more people are being pushed into extreme poverty in 2020.

The application of a temporary basic income for the poorest is a necessary measure to stop the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic according to a report published on Thursday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

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According to the study, 1.07 billion people are living under the typical international poverty lines of $1.90, $3.20, and $5.50 a day. In this sense, a temporary basic income would allow delivering shock-resistant transfers to an unprecedented crisis.

The analysis explains that assuming a profound shock with a slow recovery, it would be comprehensive a period of  3-9 months of social protection measures.

“Bailouts and recovery plans cannot only focus on big markets and big business. A Temporary Basic Income might enable governments to give people in lockdown a financial lifeline, inject cash back into local economies to help keep small businesses afloat, and slow the devastating spread of COVID-19,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

The report also highlights that some countries have taken steps to apply this alternative. Such is the case of Togo has distributed over $19.5 million in monthly financial aid to over 12 percent of the population through its cash transfer program. 

This measure has been put in practice somehow in Spain where recently it was approved monthly budget of €250 million to top up the incomes of 850,000 vulnerable families and 2.3 million individuals up to a minimum threshold.

Notably, the UNDP warns that global human development is on course to decline this year for the first time since the concept was introduced. Up to 100 million more people are being pushed into extreme poverty in 2020; 1.4 billion children affected by school closures and record-level unemployment and loss of livelihoods.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented social and economic measures. Introducing a Temporary Basic Income for the world’s poorest people has emerged as one option. This might have seemed impossible just a few months ago,” Steiner recalled. 

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