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AP: Pandemic threatens decades of progress against poverty

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Amsale Hailemariam, a domestic worker who lost work because of the coronavirus, sheds a tear as she speaks during an interview in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 26, 2020. “We are living in a state where we are above the dead and below the living. This is not life.” – AP Photo / Mulugeta Ayene

Elias Meseret, AP reporter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, tells with sensitivity the story of struggling Ethiopians, including an impoverished single mother, illustrating how decades of global progress against extreme poverty are in danger of slipping away because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With photographer Mulugeta Ayene, Meseret reports on a mother and daughter in Ethiopia – the mother’s hopes for her daughter representing the slow emergence of country’s middle class – and how those hopes are crumbling amid the pandemic.

Meseret and colleague Cara Anna weave in World Bank data, putting the story into global context. The world could see its first increase in extreme poverty in 22 years, with up to 100 million more people worldwide falling into the bitter existence of living on just $1.90 a day, further sharpening social inequities.

The story was produced with the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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Mother of two Amsale Hailemariam, a domestic worker who lost work because of the coronavirus, prepares food for her family in her small tent in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 26, 2020. She lives on the equivalent of $34 a month, received from local authorities for helping with projects like beautifying public spaces and sweeping the streets. But she doesn’t like to go out, fearing infection. – AP Photo / Mulugeta Ayene
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