COVID-19 could push nearly one-third of Nepal's population below poverty line: World Bank report

Source: Xinhua| 2020-07-23 23:55:02|Editor: huaxia

KATHMANDU, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Nepal faces the risk of its nearly one third of population who are just above the poverty line could fall below the line due to the loss of the livelihood caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank warned in a report on Thursday.

According to the Nepal Development Update, a bi-annual report of the global lender that it released on Thursday online, an estimated 31.2 percent of the Nepali population who live close to the poverty line (between 1.90 U.S. dollar a day and 3.20 U.S. dollar a day) are at high risk of falling into extreme poverty.

According to the Nepali government, 18.7 percent Nepali population are living under the poverty line currently. With the potential addition of new poor people, Nepal's half of the 30 million populations appear vulnerable to falling into extreme poverty.

Such warning of the World Bank has come at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by the Nepali government, has impacted livelihoods of people in Nepal.

On July 20, Nepal's cabinet ended the nearly four-month lockdown but still maintaining a few restrictions.

"Across all sectors, informal workers or those without social security or assistance will be most vulnerable to falling into extreme poverty," the report said. "Within this group, informal sector workers and self-employed households in urban areas may be more vulnerable than rural households that can fall back on subsistence farming."

During the launching ceremony of the report held online, Nepal's Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada admitted that measures taken to save lives from the pandemic affected Nepal's fight to eradicate poverty.

"Due to urgent measures we had to take to save lives with restriction on the movement of people has substantially affected the chain of production, trade and investment followed by job losses and reversal of achievement made in poverty reduction," he said.

Poverty headcount rates in Nepal were 42 percent in 1995, 31 percent in 2003, and 25 percent in 2010 and which came down further in the last one decade, according to the National Planning Commission of Nepal, the main planning body of the Nepali government.

According to Minister Khatiwada, besides pandemic, recent locust swarms and monsoon-induced disasters like floods and landslides affected livelihoods of Nepal besides causing loss of lives.

The World Bank report also said that Nepal's economic outlook is uncertain. Nepal is likely to see a meager growth of 2.1 percent in best case scenario to a contraction of 2.8 percent in the worst case scenario in current fiscal year 2020-21, the report said. The current fiscal year began in mid-July. Enditem