The prevalence of extreme poverty globally is a burden that weighs on every economy, and contributes to conflict, insecurity, and instability where it is experienced most acutely.
The share of the world’s population living below the international poverty line of $2.15/day dropped considerably – from 38% to 8.3% – between 1990 and 2019. However, that progress, which was already slowing came to an arresting halt with the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. For the first time in decades, the number of people affected by malnutrition and hunger has begun to rise – from 618 million to 735 million over the past three years. An emerging debt crisis threatens to make matters even worse as global interests rates rise, international supply chains are strained, and we confront converging and compounding international crises from climate change to intensifying conflict and instability.
The internationally agreed goals to eliminate hunger and extreme poverty by 2030, part of the larger UN-backed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are slipping out of reach. This represents not only a moral concern for Americans, but a pragmatic one. When developing countries experience increased opportunity and access to nutrition, it expands markets for U.S. businesses, reduces drivers of global conflict and displacement, and lowers health risks around the world. Recognizing poverty as the humanitarian and security crisis that it is, the U.S. has long prioritized human development and access to nutrition as central tenets of its foreign policy and national security frameworks.
“The food crisis has no respect for borders, and no country can overcome it alone. Our only chance of lifting millions of people out of hunger is to act together, urgently and with solidarity.”— Antonio Guterres Hear this quote in context U.N. Secretary-General
The U.S. has historically been the largest contributor to food assistance globally, but the combination of Covid-19 and related economic challenges, climate change, and direct and spillover impacts from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have led to unprecedented setbacks in the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. To meet the moment, you can urge your elected leaders in Congress and the White House to invest in development and humanitarian programs in line with the goal of ending these twin crises by 2030, including resourcing and reforming U.S. food and nutrition assistance, but also through decisive action to break the debt-disaster cycle.