Asia to halve extreme poverty by 2015

Manila, October 8:

Asia is on track to halve extreme poverty by 2015, reflecting the impact of the region’s dynamic economy on the lives of its nearly four billion people, according to a joint report released today.

The report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) stated that Asia was also set to achieve goals in primary education coverage, gender parity and fighting the deadly AIDS virus.

The findings were set out in an update on the region’s progress towards achieving the millennium development goals. Against the bro-ad regional trends, however, tuberculosis has been rising in former Soviet republics of central Asia, while north and central Asia are also ‘regressing’ in the AIDS fight.

While “many more children are surviving beyond their fifth birthday,” the report gave a mixed review on child malnutrition and said progress was slow in in providing safe water, with 1.9 billion people still without access to safe sanitation.

The report also stated that many countries were ‘still losing forest cover at alarming rates’, particularly the least developed countries (LDCs) in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

And while most countries can point to progress towards some goals, “none is on course to achieve all of them,” the report stated. It cited pockets of growing disparities within each specific country — even among over-achievers like China — and called for greater efforts to help groups which have been left behind.

Those facing the greatest obstacles are Asia’s least-developed countries, some landlocked developing countries and small islands of the Pacific, the report stated.

If those countries were to attain their 2015 targets, it would mean 196 million more people lifted out of poverty. Some 23 million more children would escape hunger, close to a million of them would survive beyond their fifth birthday, and four million more young people would get basic education.