A World Bank report from Sunday said extreme poverty will fall this year to less than 10 percent of the global population for the first time, although there is still "great concern" for millions in Africa. "This is the best story in the world today – these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty," said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, which holds its annual meetings on Oct. 9-11 in Lima, along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to World Bank projections, about 702 million people, or 9.6 percent of the world population, will live below the poverty line this year, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. In 2012 that number stood at 902 million, or about 13 percent of the world population. It was 29 percent in 1999. According to Kim, the continuing decline in extreme poverty is the result of dynamic economic growth in developing nations and investment in health and education as well as social safety nets that have prevented millions of people from falling back into poverty.
Releasing the figures, the World Bank nevertheless urged caution, saying "major hurdles remain" in the goal to end poverty by 2030. "The growing concentration of global poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern," it said in a statement. The report singled out Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo as particularly worrisome examples of deprivation in Africa. It also cautioned that reliable current data was not available in parts of the Middle East and North Africa because of conflict.
In contrast, the report noted a marked decline in extreme poverty in Asia, particularly in India and South America. Oxfam welcomed the landmark figures below 10 percent, but warned that hard work remains to drag the remaining 702 million people out of extreme poverty.