A year ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic A struck, I was optimistic about the trends in global poverty: extreme poverty rates had been steadily declining for more than two decades. Although considerable challenges like debt still loomed large for the poorest countries, the positive trajectory in the fight against poverty brought great hope for a better future.

In just one year, COVID-19 has hit poor and vulnerable countries the hardest, threatening decades of hard-won gains while exacerbating existing inequalities in the poorest countries served by the WB's International Development Association (IDA). That's why as the pandemic spread, IDA redoubled efforts by providing a significant and speedy upsurge in financing for the 74 IDA countries, and frontloading almost half of IDA19's $82 billion resources. Sadly, our efforts in many of these countries are falling short in the face of continuing pressure COVID-19 related economic pressures. The external financing need in these IDA countries is projected to increase to 3 per cent of GDP. - blog.wb.org/blogs

A version of this article appears in the print on February 9, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.