The Chronic Poverty Report 2014-2015: The road to zero extreme poverty

The Chronic Poverty Report 2014-2015: The road to zero extreme poverty

Achieving ‘zero poverty’ is a long and hard task, but this comprehensive empirical report published by the Overseas Development Institute argues that it is possible by focusing on the three arms of the ‘zero poverty tripod’: tackling chronic poverty, stopping impoverishment, and sustaining poverty escapes. These goals will require massive global investment, and all three aims, in all contexts, will require support through social assistance, huge investment in education, and a focus on pro-poorest economic growth.

The paper is structured in two parts, with Part A concerning the improvement of poverty dynamics. This includes: drawing on two previous chronic poverty reports to outline the current state of play; overviewing successful policies with an emphasis on social assistance, pro-poorest economic growth, human development for the hard-to-reach, and transformative social change; an examination of impoverishment; and the identification of factors that have enabled households to escape and stay out of poverty, with implications for policy-makers.

Part B of the paper asks the questions, “Can it be done, and what will it take?”. Here, the authors pinpoint five key drivers for success: pro-poorest economic growth, major investment in inclusive education; policies aimed at reducing individual and systemic risk for the poorest, including risk from climate change; and the attainment of governance ‘good enough’ to deliver universal services. Projection scenarios are then discussed, concluding that without marked change, one billion people could still be living in extreme poverty in 2030. To avoid this, and achieve the eradication of poverty, the paper’s final section sets out the global goals that could really make a difference, and the resources required to lift all people from poverty permanently.

The report concludes that poverty is most prevalent where domestic resources are lowest; over 80 per cent of those living on less than $1.25 per day live in countries where government spending is less than the purchasing power parity of $1000 per person each year. The major proposal recommended by the authors is for the post-2015 development framework to heed the lessons of this report and incorporate poverty eradication goals in terms of the poverty tripod. The very poorest included in each and every target, and an annual ‘Leave No One Behind’ conference linked to the UN general Assembly should be formed.

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