Manila (AsiaNews) – In Asia 614 million people – equal to 15% of the continental population – survive on less than one dollar a day, poverty and hunger remain widespread particularly in rural areas. These statistics were released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which underlines that the extreme need in rural areas despite the economic growth in many countries on the continent in the last 3 years.
The data was published ahead at the start of a two-day conference organized with the International Food Policy Research Institute in Manila, at which the ADB urged “new approaches to uplift the region's poorest, which are concentrated in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood”. Joachim von Braun director general of the research institute, said “millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, but millions more remain, particularly in rural areas”.
By 2015, the region will still be home to half the world's poor and best projections indicate that three-quarters of them will live in rural areas. At the same time, Asia is projected to contribute nearly half the world's gross domestic product. “Ironically”, ADB Vice President C. Lawrence Greenwood said “East Asia's remarkable economic growth, which was built upon strong agricultural gains, is now contributing to expanding income inequalities between those living in cities and those in rural areas". "This growing gap is not economically or politically sustainable over time”. This is why he is urging “new strategies to address emerging challenges”, including the “rapidly changing global goods market for high-value foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products; the potential offered by bio fuel production; and the growing importance of non-farming activities as income sources for the rural poor”.
In the coming years, the bank plans to raise assistance to the agriculture and natural resources sector, for which ADB lending topped 800 million dollars in 2006, up from less than 200 million in 2003.
Meanwhile, the Philippine government rescued 41,200 children in child labour abuse: a report of the Department of Labour and Employment’s’s Bureau of Women and Young Workers (BWYW) said most of these were employed in the sugar and other industries.