Friday, June 29, 2007

Asia: Poverty Down, Economic Inequality Up

Buoyed by rapid economic growth, Asia has made dramatic progress in the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, halving the proportion of people living on the equivalent of a dollar a day, according to a UN report released recently. The UN report comes at the midpoint of a 15-year effort to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight key development objectives that world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

The greatest gain was in Eastern Asia, where the proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from 33 per cent in 1990 to 9.9 per cent in 2004. In South-Eastern Asia, where extreme poverty was already down to 20.8 per cent in 1990, the percentage had dropped to 6.8 per cent by 2004.

The report said the figures put the region comfortably on track to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal, which calls for a 50 per cent reduction in extreme poverty and hunger by 2015, a press release issued by the UN Information Center (UNIC) said here Monday.

But Asia's unprecedented poverty reduction was accompanied by evidence that the benefits of economic growth are not being shared across different parts of the continent, the report said. In Southern Asia, almost 30 per cent of the population was still living on a dollar a day.

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