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WB: India has 33 percent of the world’s poor, April 11, 2014 Adjust font size:

Tackling poverty requires understanding where the greatest number of poor live, while at the same time also concentrating on where hardship is most pervasive. This entails concerted efforts in countries where large numbers of the world’s 1.2 billion poor live. The top five countries, in terms of numbers of poor, are India (with 33 percent of the world’s poor), China (13 percent), Nigeria (7 percent), Bangladesh (6 percent) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (5 percent), which together are home to nearly 760 million of the world’s poor. Adding another five countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya – would encompass almost 80 percent of the extreme poor. Hence, a sharp emphasis on these countries will be central to ending extreme poverty, according to a new World Bank paper released today.

However, many smaller countries have far higher shares of their people living below the poverty line. In 16 countries, more than half the population is living in extreme poverty. The top five countries, in terms of poverty density, are the Democratic Republic of Congo (where 88 percent of the population is below the poverty line), Liberia (84 percent), Burundi and Madagascar (81 percent each), and Zambia (75 percent). Reducing poverty in these places is as important as making progress in countries where the absolute number of poor people is much bigger.

To reach the twin goals, the World Bank Group will need to tailor its support depending on the level of each nation's urbanization, the extent of its energy needs, the levels of basic services, the human capabilities of every citizen and capacities of their governments. Success will require taking transformational solutions to scale, whether in terms of programs to improve sanitation in burgeoning cities, projects to ensure more efficient use of water for farming and other uses, expansion of health coverage for lower-income people, or the extension of welfare-to-work programs in places with high youth unemployment.

Equally, progress in improving poor people’s lives will not be sustainable if the environmen¬tal consequences of economic development are not taken into account. Making growth processes resource-efficient, cleaner and more resilient without necessarily slowing them is important to sustaining economic development.

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