The Problem of Poverty in Asia
According to the World Bank, more than 320 million people in Asia live in extreme poverty, which means hundreds of millions of people are living on less than $1.90 a day — the standard economic definition of poverty. Everything they need to survive – food, shelter, clothing, transportation – has to come from this small amount of money.
As a result, hunger in Asia is a huge problem. The poor go hungry on a regular basis. What food they can afford is cheap and often lacking in the essential proteins, vitamins and minerals necessary to survive, let alone thrive.
The Inequality of Economic Growth in Asia
Asia and the Pacific have experienced steady economic growth in recent decades. Job opportunities have increased, and many of those jobs pay more than they used to.
Unfortunately, the benefits of Asia’s recent economic growth are not available to everyone. Far too many people still live beneath the global poverty line. Poverty reduction efforts that have lowered the poverty rate in recent decades have slowed and are expected to reverse in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Too many people living in Asian countries are struggling to survive.
A large percentage of the Asian population is employed by the agricultural sector. Farms are located in rural areas, and at least three out of every four people in rural communities in Asia Pacific are poor.1
In fact, more than four out of every five people in South Asia who suffer from hunger live in rural communities, and the situation in rural communities in East Asia and the Pacific isn’t much better. Seventy-five percent of the people living in rural East Asia and the Pacific are poor and struggling to afford food.
Economically, most jobs that pay enough to help people live above the poverty line are found in sectors other than agriculture. Most of the jobs are also only available in urban areas. But many families cannot afford to move in an attempt to find a better job. Even if a family can relocate, these other jobs may require training or education that adults don’t have access to.