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NGOs Warn of Slowing Poverty Reduction

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 9 2014 (IPS) - Poverty reduction has been slowing despite the swift economic development worldwide in the past 20 years, as a result of increasing inequality between countries and within the nations.

The pace of poverty reduction was faster in the 1990-2000 period than in the following decade, in contrast to that for trade and income, which grew more quickly after 2000, according to Social Watch, a network of citizen organisations advocating poverty eradication and ending discrimination.

“Slowing progress on social indicators will only get worse as the impact of the global financial, economic food and energy crisis is being registered in internationally comparable statistics,” the Uruguay-based advocacy group said in its 2014 report.

Social Watch said its Basic Capabilities Index (BCI), designed to measure progress in the Millennium Development Goals components, climbed by 7 percentage points between 1990 and 2010, adding this was “very little progress”.

In the same period, the world’s exports increased by five times and inhabitants’ average income doubled, it said.

The United Nations said earlier this week global poverty has been halved five years ahead of the targeted timeframe 2015, with around 22 percent of the world’s population living in poverty as of 2010.

However, Social Watch said poverty reduction progress has not been sufficient because the bar for these efforts has been lowered.

“The message to the governments of the world is, therefore, that nothing needs to change to win this war,” it said.

The World Bank classified “absolute poverty” in low-income developing countries as a person living on less than 30 U.S. cents a day in 1973, which is now equivalent to 1.6 dollars, adjusted to inflation, Social Watch said. Today, the World Bank is keeping the threshold at 1.25 dollars.

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