Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank’s High-Frequency Phone Surveys (HFPS) in the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) Region show that poorer households have been disproportionately affected and have been slower to recover. Findings from the HFPS reported in the recent EAP Economic Update and a new regional study show that inequality has likely been exacerbated in several dimensions.
Imagine you are in a race, running at a steady pace during the first two-thirds. However, you notice that your pace is slowing, and you realize that unless you make changes you are not only not going to win, but you risk not even completing the race.
I find this analogy to work well while narrating the story about the reduction in global extreme poverty to my family and friends.Even though this is when we should be ratcheting up the pace, it has been slowing for the last few years, so that the world not only risks missing out on its extreme poverty reduction goals, but in some cases, we are seeing a reversal in the gains achieved.
The East Asia and Pacific region is vital to global pandemic preparedness. The region has been the epicenter of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. China and Southeast Asia alone accounted for approximately 90 percent of SARS cases and two-thirds of the human cases of avian influenza in the world. These outbreaks are driven by several socio-economic, demographic, environmental, and ecological factors, including close contact between humans and animals, encroachment with wildlife, high population density, rapid urbanization, high growth rates, and climate change.