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Accelerating the End of Ultra-Poverty

A Call to Action

There Is No Time to Spare

In yellow are the 14 countries with a high burden of ultra-poverty

We are in grave danger of failing to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end poverty everywhere unless the global community acts immediately and urgently to prioritize reaching the nearly 400 million people living in the most severe forms of extreme poverty; what we term ultra-poverty.

Much of the global progress toward ending extreme poverty in the last few decades stemmed from boosting those closest to the poverty line, primarily in India and China. Those living in ultra-poverty, in contrast, are farthest from that line. They are hungry. Their children are dying. They have no way to make a living.

Ending this most pernicious form of poverty is entirely achievable. The World Bank and the United Nations have joined 193 countries in agreeing to accomplish this by 2030.

Encouragingly, 80 percent of those living in ultra-poverty are in just 14 countries and we have the tools we need to assist them on their journey out of poverty. But it will ONLY happen if we immediately focus on the poorest of the poor, the people mired in ultra-poverty.

To do so, we must make the elimination of ultra-poverty a global priority, with regular monitoring of progress. Therefore we call on:

  • The 14 countries with a high burden of ultra-poverty to identify those that comprise this population and develop new – or amend existing – national-level plans to address their needs;

14 Countries

  • Donor countries and bilateral development agencies to prioritize funding for countries with the highest burden of ultra-poverty;
  • The Secretariat of the United Nations to explicitly highlight the need to address the challenges of ultra-poverty, including in its SDG Report, and agencies like the United Nations Development Program and the International Labor Organizations to advocate for proven solutions;
  • The World Bank to specifically address ultra-poverty within country strategies and Project Approval Documents, and proactively encourage countries to seek World Bank financing for the expansion of comprehensive social protection, livelihood development, or other similar programs to reach persons in the deepest poverty;
  • Philanthropists to support pilots, innovations, and scale-ups of evidence-backed interventions for the ultra-poor, with emphasis on the 14 high-burden countries identified in this report;
  • Citizens and civil/social organizations to hold policymakers responsible for meeting targets and standards in outreach to those living in ultra-poverty;
  • Investors to provide investment capital for the implementation of impact bonds to accelerate the scaling of ultra-poverty programming, with special prioritization on the 14 high-burden countries identified in this report;
  • Non-governmental organizations to hold themselves accountable for reaching people living in ultra-poverty and succeeding in helping them make their way out; and
  • Everyone to make the elimination of ultra-poverty a global priority, with regular monitoring of progress.