Young people explore impacts of COVID-19 on poverty across the world and in Uzbekistan

  • Young people from different regions of Uzbekistan participated in a virtual meeting held on the eve of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which takes place every year on October 17. 

The event was organized by the UNDP and the World Bank in partnership with the Agency for Youth Affairs.

During the webinar, around 90 participants, representing various universities across the country, were informed about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, employment, remittances, wellbeing of citizens, the country’s education system, etc.

The UNDP and World Bank experts noted that global extreme poverty, which is defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, is expected to rise for the first time in over 20 years as a result of the pandemic. It will cause contraction in global per-capita GDP growth of between 5% and 8% that is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty in 2020. 

The pandemic is the most severe crisis Uzbekistan has faced since the economy’s recovery from the breakup of the Soviet Union. It has almost entirely extinguished GDP growth. In 2020, it is projected to reach 0.6 percent compared with 5.6 percent a year ago.

The pandemic had a severe impact on the wellbeing of citizens and increased poverty levels in Uzbekistan. According to the World Bank estimates, as of August 2020, it dragged into poverty up to 900,000 additional people across the country.

The Government of Uzbekistan has been committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, including SDG1 to end poverty. Its efforts have reduced the national poverty rate from 24% in 2000 to 11% in 2019, lifting 2.2 million people out of poverty. However, the pandemic has countered these gains.

“Poverty is multidimensional and is closely tied up with social inequalities, like gender disparity, access to education, inadequate social protection, or discrimination of people with disabilities. Eliminating poverty does not just mean providing social assistance, but also building a more inclusive society”, noted Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative

While Uzbekistan tackles the pandemic’s impacts, now there is a chance to address poverty at its roots. There are four directions of change in Uzbekistan coming out of COVID-19, including job creation and social protection, green economy, digitalization of businesses and services, and enhancing governance to make a new social contract

“The COVID-19 crisis has become a turning point for developing countries like Uzbekistan. The main lesson learned is that people and businesses should be flexible, and able to change as circumstances demand,” said Alisher Sadullayev, Director of Youth Affairs Agency. “Life-long learning and investments in human capital can help the country move forward.”

“While Uzbekistan is experiencing the negative social and economic impact of the pandemic, we are confident that there are all necessary conditions to support an inclusive recovery and to accelerate the eradication of poverty in the future”, underlined Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan, in the conclusion of the webinar. 

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