G20 Finance Ministers have been told to remove blockages that are preventing the world’s poorest countries from accessing essential financial support, or risk fueling humanitarian emergencies and political instability.
The call from anti-poverty organization, The ONE Campaign, comes as finance chiefs meet this weekend against a backdrop of global economic stagnation, rising prices and increasing food insecurity, driven by the aftershocks of COVID and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
ONE’s latest research shows that these global crises are adding further pressures on the high number of low income countries that are at risk of bankruptcy. Despite this situation, vulnerable countries have still not benefited from billions of dollars of support through channeled Special Drawing Rights that was promised in 2021. Meanwhile, a year and a half after its announcement, the Common Framework is yet to deliver the debt relief promised to indebted countries. Just Zambia, Ethiopia and Chad have applied and not one has received any relief.
Further research released in the past week shows that 1.5 billion people – a fifth of the world’s population – now live in the 25 countries at highest risk of debt distress, increasing the prospect of mounting political instability as more people become trapped in extreme poverty and are forced to go without basic food and provisions.
ONE is urging the G20 to address this situation urgently, by accelerating efforts to support vulnerable countries and make faster progress on the process of reforming multilateral development banks, which could release up to $1 trillion in support for developing countries.
Executive director for Africa at The ONE Campaign, Edwin Ikhuoria, said: “The whole world is experiencing economic pressures at the moment – but for people in the poorest and most vulnerable nations these pressures could have devastating consequences.
“We are already seeing an escalating food emergency in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With countries also dealing with the aftershocks of the pandemic there is a real risk that millions more people will be plunged into the nightmare of extreme poverty.
“Wealthy nations promised to do more to support vulnerable countries, but to date that support has not arrived where it is needed most. We urgently need to unblock the system and provide the investment and debt relief that will prevent these crises becoming a humanitarian catastrophe.”