AMHERST, Massachusetts — Asia holds over 66 percent of the world’s total population. In order to achieve the goal of cutting poverty in half by 2015, reducing poverty in Asia is necessary.
The primary cause of poverty in Asia is the deterioration of rural areas in which 80-90 percent of the total population lives. 39 percent of Asia’s population lives in dry climates and wetlands where agriculture and farming is growing increasingly difficult to manage and creating a source of income is almost impossible. The impoverished population is estimated to multiply with global warming.
The Asian Developmental Bank has a goal of reaching the “estimated 1.7 billion people still struggling on less the $2 a day in urban slums or rural poverty,” and pulling them from the lower class.
A few examples of the objectives of ADB include conserving soil and water in order to increase agricultural production, creating more off-farm employment opportunities and generating land restructuring, water rights and more rights for women.
Recently ADB granted the High Mountain Agribusiness and Livelihood Improvement Project $20 million dollars towards strengthening the worth and goods of small farmers.
Small farmers and those living on rural lands tend to have more family members, suffer from a lack of employment and very little education. Due to land being hard to come by, there is also a struggle to find fresh drinking water, sanitation, and farming land.
In Eastern Asia poverty has been drastically cut by two thirds in the last 30 years.
This reduction is mostly due to the rise in agriculture and aquaculture, which is increasing the gross domestic production by almost 10 percent. Fishing in East Asia is a huge economic benefit, where 70 percent of fish is consumed in Asia. China currently produces 37 percent of the world’s fish and consumes 38 percent.
Southeast Asia is also recently facing an economic upswing. The “gross national income has been increasing by about 4.4 percent” and the regional poverty has shrunk by two-thirds. Although it economically has made positive strides, the increasing number of HIV/AIDS outbreaks in the poverty-stricken population threatens the progress.
It has been estimated by epidemiologists that “Asia is the next epicenter of the pandemic” if not helped as soon as possible.
Although advancements have been made in Southeast and Eastern Asia, Southern Asia has seemingly been left behind within the last 30 years. The Southern income has only shown growth of 1.4 percent and the economies have grown by approximately 6 percent. The population is estimated to hold the largest percentage living under the poverty line compared to the rest of the world, apart from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Those living in Central Asia have been adjusting to the transformation from large public run farms to privately run farms. These farmers are struggling with the lack of proper agricultural methods to lead and take care of land. The conversion to privately owned farms has also excluded farmland within mountainous regions that do hold a large impoverished population.
These farmers are currently wrestling with little resources and land, which is becoming progressively deteriorated. Women are mainly the ones in charge of maintaining the farmland while their husbands travel to find jobs.
Western Asia is home to two very drastic populations: those who live in Turkey where rural poverty decreased within the last decade, and those who live in Armenia and surrounding areas where the cost of gas, fuel and electricity has skyrocketed and the environment has taken a hard blow. People in Armenia are searching for alternative ways to form heat in order to avoid the increased cost of energy, so burning wood has led to deforestation.
Incomes do fluctuate throughout Western Asia though; it contains an immense refugee population and many living in rural areas other than Turkey still have incomes below the national average.
Sources: Asian Development Bank, Rural Poverty, The World Bank
Photo: The Vagabond