The United Nations Economic Commission on Africa, or ECA, noted in March that about 9 in 10 of the world’s extremely poor people live in Africa. The ECA now warns that the economic effects already felt since the pandemic began in 2020 “will push an additional 5 to 29 million below the extreme poverty line.”
“If the impact of the pandemic is not limited by 2021, an additional 59 million people could suffer the same fate, which would bring the total number of extremely poor Africans to 514 million people,” the agency says. The World Bank estimates the economy went from 2.4% growth in 2019 to a 3.3% contraction in 2020, plunging Africa into its first recession in 25 years.
“The economic disruption wrought by COVID-19 has pushed hunger crises off a cliff,” Sean Granville-Ross, Africa regional director for the nonprofit charitable organization Mercy Corps, told The Associated Press. Granville-Ross says his organization in 2021 saw “an alarming spike in need” in regions such as the Sahel, West Africa, East Africa and southern Africa where some countries were already experiencing humanitarian crises and conflict before COVID-19. Renewed travel restrictions and possible lockdowns “will only push millions more people to poverty and undermine the slight economic recovery we have started to see,” Granville-Ross says
Worry is now intensifying amid a spike in COVID infections in Africa, which currently accounts for about 9 million of the world’s roughly 275 million cases.