Pushed Back into Poverty

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Global Poor

  • Ryan Huynh University of Missouri-Columbia
Keywords: Extreme poverty, coronavirus, famine, Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations


This paper seeks to examine the state of extreme poverty before the COVID-19 pandemic, the negative impacts of the pandemic on extreme poverty, and potential solutions to those negative impacts. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse decades of consistent progress in fighting extreme poverty. For the first time in 20 years, the number of people in extreme poverty will increase instead of decrease. An estimated 80 to 400 million people will fall back into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. Millions are on the brink of famine. Pauses in the distribution of mosquito nets and vaccines threaten to cause hundreds of thousands of additional deaths. Potential solutions include reducing the spread of COVID-19, funding the United Nations COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, sending cash transfers to the extreme poor, calling for a global ceasefire, and empowering individuals and organizations to support charities.