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Asian Development Bank's success with poverty reduction

BY: Jyoti | Category: Business and Finance | Post Date: 2009-03-11
 



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   Jyoti
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-While humanity shares one planet, it is a planet on which there are two worlds, the world of the rich and the world of the poor.-
Raanan Weitz, 1986


The international growth-driven community adopted the millennium development goals (MDGs) as the yardstick for monitoring progress in global poverty reduction. The collective endeavor of ESCAP and UNDP was eradication of extreme poverty and hunger in the Asia and Pacific region.

The target set was as follows: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day, and the second target and then Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

The growing need to get rid of poverty from the most affected regions of the world calls for a regional-collaborative body. In Asia and the Pacific, Asian Development Bank's experience in implementing the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) is much older than the MDGs.

Ever since its inception in 1966, the Asian Development Bank has one over arching objective- a poverty free Asia and the Pacific. Though for the record, it may be mentioned that the ADB has been pursuing several objectives, namely; economic growth, human development, sound environmental management and improving status of women, but most of its policies have been oriented towards helping out countries in alleviation of poverty.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) espoused PRS as its overarching goal in 1999. Given the fact that the Asian and Pacific region is home to about Sixty six percent of the world's poor, this was necessary.

The Asian financial crisis of 1997 which pushed several million Asians into the quagmire of poverty acted as the catalyst and furthered the implementation of PRS

ADB perceived poverty as -a deprivation of essential assets and opportunities to which every human is entitled… Poverty is thus better measured in terms of basic education, health care, nutrition, water and sanitation, as well as income, employment, and wages. Such measures must also serve as a proxy for other important intangibles such as feelings of powerlessness and lack of freedom to participate.-

The PRS framework focused ADB's activities under four key operational processes: first, a requirement that country strategies and programs be formulated on the basis of their contribution to poverty reduction; second, a commitment to lend 40% for poverty interventions (interventions targeted to households and individuals); third, emphasis on four crosscutting priorities: environmental sustainability, gender equality, good governance, and private sector development; and fourth, lending to priority sectors that contributed to poverty reduction and social development.

The Asian and Pacific region's poverty incidence (using a $1 a day standard) declined by about 30 percent over the decade. In 1990, about 32% of people in the region were below the poverty line (BPL) and by the year 2000; this figure came down to 22 percent.

The region's performance was driven largely by India and China. The rest of the region did not witness a decline in the number of the poor over the decade, which remained at about 172 million, although poverty incidence fell from 22 percent to 18 percent.

ADB implemented the PRS in the following manner to solve problems of DMCs: Country Strategy Formulation: poverty partnership agreements (PPAs) agreed both by governments and ADB; country strategies and programs (CSPs) based on country-specific analyses including assessments of environment, gender, governance, and private sector development [PSD].

Lending programs in countries like India, China, and Thailand have lead to the development of infrastructure, which directly reduced poverty in underdeveloped regions. Crosscutting priorities have developed the private sector, environment, and promoted regional cooperation, which has resulted into sustainable and major reduction of poverty in ADB-supported countries.

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