By Sebastien Malo
NEW YORK, April 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - About 50 million people have escaped extreme poverty because of social safety nets, from pensions to feeding programs, the World Bank said on Wednesday.
Although more welfare programmes are being introduced, including cash and public works, only 2.5 billion people worldwide are covered, despite their substantial contribution to a global goal to end poverty, it said.
"Social safety net programs matter if we want to reduce poverty and inequality," Michal Rutkowski, the World Bank's senior director for social protection, said in a statement.
Short of them, "poor people facing shocks can fall into deeper poverty, often having to sell their remaining assets or borrow more", said Annette Dixon, the bank's vice president for human development.
Ending extreme poverty by 2030 is a key target in the Sustainable Development Goals, a global plan of action agreed at the United Nations in 2015.
Extreme poverty has more than halved since 1990 to about 770 million people - or one in ten globally - who live on less than $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank.
Spending on safety nets was highest in Europe and Central Asia and lowest in Africa and South Asia, measured as a share of a country's gross national product, among the countries surveyed, it said.
"Global coverage of poor and vulnerable people remains inadequate," the bank said, reaching only one out of five people in low-income countries.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo @sebastienmalo, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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