600m Asian kids in misery: Report

Bangkok, August 22:

Nearly half of Asia’s 1.27 billion children live in poverty — deprived of food, safe drinking water, health or shelter, a development agency said in a report released today. While 600 million children under the age of 18 lack access to one of these basic human needs, over 350 million are deprived of two or more of these needs, said Growing up in Asia, a report from the child humanitarian organisation Plan.

Plan said half of Asia’s families are not benefiting from economic growth and globalisation. It blamed the pressure of rapid population growth on scarce resources; lack of access to education, clean water and sanitation; caste discrimination; and weak governance and corruption.

“Asia has more than twice as many severely deprived children as sub-Saharan Africa. This scale of child poverty will have a serious impact on Asia’s future prospects, unless it is addressed now,” Michael Diamond, Plan’s Asia regional director, said in a news release.

The report said that to combat poverty, the international community needs to reduce subsidies given to US, European and Japanese farmers and write off billions of dollars in debt. It also said richer countries could help by paying more for the goods they buy from developing countries. Plan has pledged to invest $1 billion on poverty reduction across 12 Asian nations over the next decade.