© . FILE PHOTO: Residents of a small apartment complex do household chores outside their units, amid the lockdown to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in a slum in Tondo, Manila, Philippines, May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez / File Photo MANILA () – The pandemic added 4.7 million more people to Southeast Asia’s most extreme poor in 2021, undoing gains made in fighting poverty, the Asian Development Bank said ( ADB) Wednesday, while urging governments to take steps to boost economic growth. The number of people living in extreme poverty — defined as those living on less than $1.90 a day — was 24.3 million last year, or 3.7% of Southeast Asia’s combined 650 million residents, according to the ADB. in a report. Before the pandemic, figures for people living in extreme poverty in Southeast Asia had fallen, dropping 14.9 million in 2019, down from 18 million in 2018 and 21.2 million in 2017. “The pandemic has led to widespread unemployment, increasing inequality and rising poverty levels, especially among women, younger workers and the elderly in Southeast Asia,” said ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa. Asakawa urged governments to improve health systems, streamline regulations to increase business competitiveness, invest in smart, green infrastructure and adopt technology to accelerate growth. The ADB said there were 9.3 million fewer employed workers in Southeast Asia in 2021 as COVID-19 slowed economic activity and left millions out of work. The 2021 growth forecast for Southeast Asia was 3.0%. The region is expected to grow 5.1% this year, but the Omicron COVID-19 variant could lower its growth outlook by as much as 0.8 percentage points if it spreads further and causes supply and demand shocks, the ADB said. Ramesh Subramaniam, director general at the ADB, said Southeast Asia’s growth prospects will be revised to reflect the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he expected to be “manageable”. “The challenge will be what the medium term holds. Will this affect the region’s recovery from the pandemic and the fiscal challenges it will face?” said Subramaniam at the report’s launch. “How can we ensure that any knock-on effects do not become serious in the case of Southeast Asia?” The conflict has forced Asian policymakers to rethink their 2022 assumptions, with the risks of weak growth coupled with rising prices adding unwanted complexity to monetary plans. Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data on this website is not necessarily real-time or accurate. All CFDs (Stocks, Indices, Futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and therefore prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price meaning prices are indicative and not suitable for trading purposes . Therefore, Fusion Media does not bear any responsibility for any trading losses that you may incur as a result of using this data. Fusion Media or anyone associated with Fusion Media accepts no liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any information, including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals on this website. Be fully informed about the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest forms of investment possible.