- Economist says move will throw more Malawians into poverty bracket
The World Bank is set to revise its global poverty line in the first week of October 2015 in a move an economist says will likely throw more Malawians into the poverty bracket.
Currently, the bank’s poverty line is pegged at $1.25 (about K700) per day, but the bank is shifting its global poverty definition to about $1.90 (about K1 064) per day, the biggest revision since the Bretton Woods institution introduced its $1 (about K560) per day benchmark of global poverty in 1990.
World Bank Malawi communications officer Zeria Banda could neither deny nor confirm the imminent revision of the bank’s poverty line definition when asked yesterday, saying relevant officials will make official announcements on the same early next month.
However, the Financial Times reported that world leaders met on Friday at the United Nations headquarters in New York to commit to 17 new Sustainable Development Goals meant to guide development policy in the next 15 years.
“The [World] bank is expected to follow the event by shifting its poverty line to about $1.90 ahead of its annual meetings in Lima, Peru in early October, a move likely to result in significant shifts in the estimated size and distribution of the planet’s poor,” said the paper.
Today, a majority of the Malawi population—estimated at over 15 million people—cannot afford to spend $1.25 per day.
According to the 2013 Integrated Household Panel Survey (IHPS), although the rate of incidence of poverty has fallen slightly from 40.2 percent in 2010 to 38.7 percent in 2013, an estimated 72.2 percent of Malawians live below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day.
Head of economics at the Chiradzulu-based Catholic University, Gilbert Kachamba, said in an interview the adjustment of the poverty line will see the number of poor people rising both globally and locally.
He observed that the situation also comes at a time when poverty in the country remains considerably high and pervasive.
Said Kachamba: “We continue to see millions of Malawians living lives of deprivation and hardship. Poverty is still widespread.”
World Bank president Jim Yong told the paper that the decision to adjust the poverty line was a necessary update due to new data on purchasing power, adding that the new poverty line has been ‘very well vetted’ by the bank’s poverty experts. n