The great reversal
Covid-19 is undoing years of progress in curbing global poverty
The number of very poor people was steadily falling; now it is rising fast
Jane Kabahuma has been eating one meal a day since the end of March, when the lockdown began. She used to work in a hotel, but it had to close, along with most businesses in Uganda. She thinks “it will take time” before the work comes back. In five months she is expecting a baby; it may arrive before a job does.
Her standard of living has plummeted. She used to pay to fill her jerrycans from a clean tap, but these days fetches water from a dirty well, because it is free. She gets by, more or less, with help from friends and family. But for how long?
In normal times, people in poor countries have many ways to cope with shocks. If one member of a family falls sick, the others can work longer hours to make up for the lost income. Or they can ask cousins or neighbours for help. Or, if a whole village is impoverished by a bad harvest, they
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