Fresh concerns about COVID-19’s ‘threat to zero poverty progress'

Six months after the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis is plunging millions of children into poverty and reversing decades of progress towards reducing extreme poverty. That’s the warning from World Vision in the lead up to the United Nations General Assembly, where it will celebrate the 75 years of cooperation that have led to continuous poverty reduction - until now. 

The number of people living in extreme poverty decreased from 36 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent in 2015.[1]   But the humanitarian agency says it is now seeing poverty rising in the most vulnerable and fragile countries and believes that the consequences will be felt for generations to come if leaders don’t take swift action to address the secondary effects of COVID-19 alongside the health crisis.

Andrew Morley, World Vision International President & CEO, said: “Our message to leaders at the UN General Assembly is simple: the fallout from COVID-19 will wreck the futures of an entire generation of children - unless we act now. Progress that had been made is now in jeopardy. As ever, it is the most vulnerable girls and boys who are most at risk.”

New research contained in the report Aftershocks: Deadly Waves, released by World Vision last week, found that the majority of people in donor countries believe governments should increase investment in overseas COVID-19 funding. Without governments doing everything they can to prepare and protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable, a further 1.56 million people are at risk of dying in a deadlier second wave of COVID-19.

“We are working flat out with our partners, governments and faith leaders to bring hope for those who need it most in the world's toughest places. This is a global pandemic –and nothing but a united, global effort will suffice.” said Morley. 

Meanwhile, many countries are battling simultaneous disasters, exacerbating the spread of COVID-19 and threatening to thrust even more families into poverty. Following the chaos of the Beirut explosion, Lebanon recorded one third of its total COVID-19 cases in just 10 days[3].

The pandemic’s economic toll has left families, already living on the edge, out of work, has forced  vulnerable children out of school due to lockdowns, and threatened millions more with hunger and starvation. World Vision assessments estimated that the secondary impacts in Asia alone may leave up to 85 million households with no or limited food supplies, with 8 million children forced into child labour or begging. In Latin America, every third Venezuelan migrant child is going to bed hungry. In Sub-Saharan Africa, one in seven female business owners told us they are earning less than half what they did prior to the pandemic.

“71 million people risk being pushed back into extreme poverty. We must work in solidarity to do all it takes to stop this happening, giving children the chance to thrive and reach their God-given potential” said Morley. 


Editor Notes:

World Vision’s COVID-19 emergency response has reached 45 million people, including 19 million children in more than 70 countries across the world. In the six months since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation, World Vision has:

  • Trained and supported 97,000 community health care workers
  • Supported 94,000 faith leaders to share preventive messaging and materials
  • Provided 220,000 health workers with personal protective equipment
  • Reached 1.3 million children with age-specific health education
  • Supported 1.2 million children with child protection programming
  • Distributed US$23 million in cash and voucher assistance

For a complete look at World Vision’s impact, please see the latest situation report:

World Vision can supply videos, photos and spokespeople are available for interviews.

For further information or to organise and interview please contact

Niamh Cooper |  Director of Media and Social Media Engagement | | Skype: Niamh.cooper5 | Phone: +353 87 942 3371

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision

[1]World Bank data, see pg 19