HANOI, - The Asia-Pacific region has done much to fight poverty, but no country is on track to meet a set of UN-agreed goals that range from stemming AIDS to reducing infant mortality, experts said Thursday.
East and Southeast Asian countries had broadly reduced abject poverty, hunger, illiteracy and infant and maternal mortality, said Kim Hak-Su, head of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
“All these achievements have been possible due to a combination of high and sustained economic growth with prudent public investments in basic services,” Kim told the start of a two-day conference in Hanoi.
But he also cautioned that income inequality and HIV-AIDS infections were on the rise in some countries, and that the proportion of people with access to safe drinking water was falling in many Asian cities.
He pointed out that environmental decline in China and elsewhere was threatening to reverse some gains and said air pollution was on the rise while every Southeast Asian nation except Vietnam was now losing forest cover.
Despite broad progress, no single East or Southeast Asian country was on track to meet all the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that aim to halve extreme poverty by 2015, the Asian Development Bank said in a statement.
Afghanistan, Cambodia, East Timor and parts of Central Asia, wrecked by decades of war and civil strife, had seen progress in poverty reduction that “is as weak, if not worse, than many sub-Saharan countries,” said the ADB.
On a positive note, the region as a whole was on track to meet some other targets -- halving poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary schooling and eliminating gender disparities in education, said the Manila-based bank.
The Hanoi meeting -- organised by UNESCAP, the UN Development Programme and the ADB -- brings together over 100 delegates from 12 countries to share information on achieving the MDGs which were agreed by UN members in 2000.