Large pockets of extreme poverty and hunger persist in Asia, where the global downturn makes it more difficult to achieve United Nations (UN) goals to reduce the ranks of the poor, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday.
Also See The Asian Pangs (click here)
Supporting smaller businesses where most Asians are employed is key to fuelling domestic demand and growth, the Manila-based lender said in a report on key economic indicators. In 19 Asian economies, including the most populous China and India, at least 10% of the people live on less than $1.25 (Rs61) a day and at least 10% are malnourished. This is despite the region’s success over the last 15 years in cutting the number of poor from one in two to around one in four, the report said. Nepal is the worst off with 55.1% of its population surviving on less than $1.25 a day. In China and India, 15.9% and 41.6% of the population live below the poverty line, respectively. Among the so-called UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is cutting in half extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 and reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters over the same period. The report said Asia faces serious challenges in meeting goals linked to sanitation and maternal deaths, which remain unacceptably high in countries such as Afghanistan, Nepal and Laos. Governments should focus not only on fiscal stimulus and large enterprises, but on supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises—where most Asian workers are employed—to build a substantial urban middle class with spending power, said chief ADB economist Lee Jong-Wha.
Graphics by Sandeep Bhatnagar and Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint