The Asia-Pacific region’s rapid economic growth has helped cut extreme income poverty but has had less of an impact on addressing widespread hunger and infant mortality, according to a new report.
Most countries in the region are on track to reduce poverty by half, attain universal education and achieve gender parity in education in the next eight years, according to the report released yesterday by the Asian Development Bank and UN agencies.
Although the region’s poverty rate of about 17 per cent is higher than in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific countries are making much faster progress in eliminating extreme poverty thanks to rapid economic growth. “Based on the $1-a-day measure, the region as a whole is on track, due in part to rapid economic growth in many countries, most recently in China,” it said.
But the report also noted that the region was making very slow progress in addressing child mortality and nutrition, improving maternal health and providing safe drinking water and sanitation.
As a result the region’s least developed countries are likely to miss the United Nations’ millennium development goals for 2015 unless they get external help.
Reducing hunger “is one of the region’s greatest failures” with 28 per cent ofunder-fives underweight, the authors of the report declared.
Shiladitya Chatterjee, head of the ADB’s poverty unit, said the disparity between rapid progress in poverty reduction and the slow pace in addressing hunger, infant mortality and other social goals could be partly explained by a lack of public investments in basic services.
He said: “While Asia now has more resources because of rapid growth, the translation of those resources into effective programmes to raise standards in education and health care access is not taking place as much as it should.”