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Poverty in Europe and Central Asia

October 17, 2018


October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, marks the observance of the date the world endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the first of which is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. Goal one and its targets mirror the World Bank Group’s own goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

With the world now signed on to the ambitious SDGs, countries are beginning to draw up national plans to achieve the new goals and targets, so now is an opportune time for advocacy and action. The World Bank Group will continue to offer governments and clients support for their anti-poverty work in the form of shared knowledge, innovative financing, and statistical capacity building, since data on the goals are essential if we are to accurately measure the world’s progress.


In Europe and Central Asia, one of the most significant, and unique, problems that families face in many countries is the harsh and extremely cold winters that can stretch on for months. Winters mean temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit), sometimes dipping to as low as -45 degrees Celsius (-49 degrees Fahrenheit) in the coldest parts of the region.

" In winter, we have a furnace for heat, but we live in one room. We buy coal for 300 Som ($4.3) per bag, and spent 20,000 Som ($290) last winter on it. We are still in debt from that. "

Kyrgyz Republic, household of four, settlement 20 miles from Bishkek

The severe cold means that families need to spend a significant amount of money not only to stay warm but to also ensure that they get the minimum required amount of calories to survive winters.

The average household in Europe and Central Asia spends over 7 percent of its income to pay for energy and food. These costs add up and families in the region often struggle to afford heating and food, let alone other living expenses. Such households are considered to be extremely poor.

" We don't eat very regularly. It can happen that breakfast is at noon. We usually have pasta or rice and vegetables. Once or twice a month, we might get meat. "

Armenia, household of six, rural area