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ADB Helps Pakistan to Fight Poverty

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) helps Pakistan to fight poverty by pledging  $10 billion to Pakistan over the next 5 years for the purpose of infrastructure development, with the goal of improving important economic sectors that could revitalize regional trade. Two central areas of investment for the ADB will be water resource development and transportation infrastructure. Transportation infrastructure is an especially important focus area, as it undergirds the possibility of developing trade in other sectors of Pakistan’s economy. Water resource development will be crucial in continuing to sustain the agriculture sector and in ensuring that citizens have access to water. Here are some ways ADB helps Pakistan to fight poverty by addressing some major issues.

Trade and Transportation

While trade and poverty may appear to be separate, the economic growth prospects offered by expanding trade programs often spill over to effect poverty reduction. The positive gains in GDP growth result in increased capital coming into a country, which creates more opportunities for employment and access to markets. Since 2001, consistent yearly GDP growth in Pakistan, ranging from 1.7 percent to 7.5 percent has come alongside a 24.7 percent reduction in the number of Pakistanis living in extreme (less than $1.90 a day) poverty.

However, the poor transit system could have negative effects on the future of economic growth in Pakistan. Most of the nation’s railway system is over 100 years old and was built during the British colonial period. This has severely hampered the possibility of ramping up trade and industrial production, as only 4 percent of commerce can be shipped via rail. This has had a while GDP growth has been consistent, the share of growth caused by trade has declined, as the service industry, at 58.6 percent of GDP and agriculture sector at 24 percent both outpace the contributions of industrial production, which has declined from 22 percent of GDP to 19.3 percent. Moreover, the ADB estimates that 2 percent of GDP is lost annually due to poor transportation infrastructure.

In response to this, the ADB has announced plans to invest in providing more locomotives, increasing the overall prospects for shipping capabilities by rail, and has also invested in updating railway lines, as well as improving north-south highways for travel via motor vehicles.

Water Resource Development

Water resource development is another way ADB helps Pakistan fight poverty. This is not to suggest that agriculture is unimportant, as in some cases, agricultural development is integral to the maintenance of local economic growth, offering a means of mitigating the worst impacts of poverty. This is especially true of Balochistan, a province that faces severe water scarcity, impacting both the living standards of the population and the local economy. Agricultural production requires massive levels of water to operate successfully, and with 60 percent of the population employed in agriculture, the impact of water scarcity on poverty is compounded by pressing economic concerns.

As a result of water scarcity in Quetta, the provincial headquarters of Balochistan, many tube-wells were installed in order to redirect water from rural areas to provide water to the urban areas. This program has produced a massive strain on the population of Balochistan, eliminating access for water for both drinking and for use in agricultural production, with poor water resource management producing a scenario in which one portion of the population is only able to access the water by depriving another.

However, the ADB is seeking to combat this water scarcity by protecting watersheds and building 276 kilometers of new irrigation channels, to support agricultural production. Watersheds will prevent soil erosion, and increase water storage capabilities in the region, while irrigation channels will assist in combating the scarcity brought on by tube-wells. Beyond its use for irrigation, these programs will also be important for developing methods of helping increase access to water in the region, which some estimate could have a profound impact on increasing women’s access to water.

Conclusion

Water scarcity and poor transportation infrastructure have hindered effective economic development in Pakistan, limiting the prospects for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. The influx of capital offered by expanding networks for regional trade promises to offer new avenues for employment and sustainable income for Pakistanis living in poverty. Water resource management will provide new avenues for managing agricultural development, ensuring stable irrigation routes and providing overall water security.

Alexander Sherman
Photo: Flickr

Trade in Bangladesh

Increased global integration has happened in Bangladesh as a result of domestic policy changes and the ability to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the international market. The increasing openness of the country’s economy reflects this. With the trend of Bangladesh devoting foreign aid towards project aid, foreign assistance has been playing a key role in increasing trade in Bangladesh.

Aid for Trade in Bangladesh by the World Trade Organization

Trade liberalization is not enough as many developing countries are still unable to take full advantage of it due to a lack of proper infrastructure and the relation between aid and trade flows. As a result, the concept of Aid for Trade (AfT) emerged in 2005 as an effort to assist developing countries to overcome supply-side constraints and improve trade capacity. This initiative also included economic infrastructure and productive capacity-building.

Aid for Trade in Bangladesh has helped strengthen its trade-related supply-side capacities through technical and financial support from various bilateral and multilateral development partners. Bangladesh had received a significant amount of trade-related assistance even before the institutionalization of AfT in 2005.

Over the years, AfT disbursements in Bangladesh have increased from $376.2 million in 2006-2008 to $910.1 million in 2015. As of 2015, the top AfT disbursement donors were Japan with $359.5 million, IDA with $292.4 million, AsDB Special Funds with $88.8 million, the United States with $50.6 million and Korea with $35.2 million. Most of these disbursements went to energy generation and supply, followed by transportation and storage, and agriculture, forestry and fishing.

By 2015, exports of goods increased by 183 percent and commercial services increased by 81 percent. Import of goods increased by 164 percent and commercial services increased by 220 percent, reflecting the increase in trade in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Regional Connectivity Project 1 by World Bank

On December 7, 2017, the World Bank signed a $150 million agreement with Bangladesh to improve trade-related infrastructure, systems and procedures so that Bangladesh could increase trade regionally with India, Bhutan and Nepal.

The Bangladesh Regional Connectivity Project 1 will develop and improve four land ports – Bhomra, Sheola, Ramgarh and Benapole, which are key ports for regional trade, especially with India. The modernization of these ports will not only increase trade in Bangladesh and its freight volumes but also lessen truck clearance times at border posts. For instance, the expectation is that clearance time will decrease by 83 percent in the Bhomra port.

According to Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, “By addressing the key barriers to trade, especially transport and clearance delays, Bangladesh can become more competitive regionally and globally, and reach more emerging and dynamic markets with diversified product mix, including higher-value garments.”

The project will also develop a National Single Window, a single electronic gateway, through which traders can submit all import, export and transit information needed by the Customs and other regulatory organizations. Not only will it reduce transaction time and costs but also increase transparency in international trade procedures.

The project will also initiate skills development programs to include more women in formal trade networks and global value chains, while also developing the necessary infrastructure, logistics and transport services for women.

Trade Finance Program (TFP) by Asian Development Bank

ADB’s TFP provides guarantees and loans to banks in order to support trade and fill the gaps in trade financing. The program works with over 200 banks to provide financial support to companies so they can actively participate in exports and imports in the challenging markets of Asia. The program supports transactions of commodities and capital goods to medical supplies and consumer goods.

This program has been working with Bangladesh since 2004 and has been involved with 13 local partner banks. It has conducted around 1,983 transactions in total, supporting trade in Bangladesh worth $3.1 billion and benefiting 966 small and medium-sized enterprises in various sectors ranging from food and agricultural goods to commodities and industrial machinery, capital goods and more.

Dutch-Bangla Bank Ltd. (DBBL) in Bangladesh partnered with the bank of TFP in 2009 and signed an agreement on February 22, 2018, to receive $10 million in loans annually from the program to support and increase trade in Bangladesh.

Multilateral and bilateral trade preferences towards Least Developed Countries have played an important role in increasing trade in Bangladesh, specifically the growth of exports, and as a result, the contribution of export-oriented sectors towards the country’s GDP, employment and investment. With diversified programs from development partners, the expectation is that the quality, volume and transparency of trade will increase for Bangladesh.

– Farihah Tasneem
Photo: Flickr

Water management in Armenia

With 25.7 percent of the population living below the poverty line, the people of Armenia consider water a luxury. Armenians face daily water shortages and unclean water supply in their homes. Despite this, several groups are working together to improve water management in Armenia. Maintaining a stable supply of water is an important step in lowering poverty and improving the lives of citizens.

3 Efforts to Improve Water Management in Armenia

  1. Relief to Yerevan: The World Bank sponsored a $50 million project to make water more accessible to Armenians living in the capital city, Yerevan. Before the intervention, families would have access to water in their homes for approximately six hours per day, and the water was usually unclean. Now, 332,000 families in the capital have access to water for 21 hours per day, and thanks to nine new chlorination stations, the water is cleaner and safer. The World Bank also recognized the need to monitor the water supply to prevent waste, so they introduced a software program that oversees the entire network of pipes and water mains. The program makes it possible to pinpoint areas within the network that need renovation or attention to maintain a stable supply of water. This program could help thousands of Armenians if it were implemented in other cities, but so far, it has brought a sense of security and relief to Yerevan.
  2. Wastewater Treatment Methods: Before 2010, the wastewater treatment system allowed unsanitary water to contaminate agricultural lands, causing a jeopardized food supply and an increased risk of disease. In the village of Parakar, Global Water Partnership’s Armenia branch stepped in to reform the wastewater treatment methods. They chose a cost-effective technology that treats domestic wastewater so that it can be later used for irrigation purposes and vice versa. This allows water to be recycled and reused, promoting a message of sustainability. The treatment program also focused on public awareness of the new treatment technology, involving the community in the process which facilitated the plan’s success.
  3. Water Within Reach: Armenians used to have to travel very far to get potable water. Some families were forced to drive over an hour to get to the public tap, spending a large portion of their income on the expenses associated with this travel. The Asian Development Bank launched a project that aimed to reduce the cost of obtaining water by making it clean and available within people’s own homes, benefitting more than 600,000 people across the country. Having access to water in the home for at least 17 hours per day now costs $12 per month – significantly less than what it previously cost to make the drive to the public tap. This initiative marginally contributes to the decrease in poverty among Armenian families, and it improves the quality of their lives significantly.

The World Bank, the Global Water Partnership and the Asian Development Bank have changed lives because of their work to improve water management in Armenia. This is a small but mighty step towards decreasing poverty in Armenia.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

Youth Education in Nepal
Nepal is a landlocked country located in South Asia. Much of the country’s population of 29 million lives in rural and distant places, making it difficult for youth education in Nepal to be reachable for the entirety of the country. Successful steps have been made in improving youth educational development through various nonprofit organizations and government programs.

Nepal in Numbers

Nepal is one of the least developed countries in Asia, ranking at 149th place out of 189 countries by the 2017 U.N. Human Development Index. According to the Asian Development Bank, about 25 percent of the population was living on less than $1 per day in 2011.

Nepal has many rural and distant communities that do not have a solid educational system. About 83 percent of the population lives in rural areas and 14 percent of the population is characterized as living in remote areas. Data from 2006 show that 76 percent of the Terai Dalits, 62 percent of Muslims and 45 percent of the Hill ethnic group did not attend school.

Despite the situation not being so good currently, it is safe to say that Nepal has seen a great improvement in education rates in the last few decades. The number of students enrolled in primary schools grew from 400,000 in 1971 to 3.9 million in 2001. Secondary school admittance increased from 120,000 in 1971 to 1.5 million in 2001, and the literacy rates improved drastically, from 20.6 percent of the population in 1981 to 64.7 percent in 2015.

Government expenditure for education was at 16.1 percent of the country’s budget in 2014-2015. Meanwhile, parents are spending close to 50 percent of their households budgets on the education of their children. In 2004, only 6 percent of the educational budget was used for higher education.

My Education…My Hope

Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), Qatar’s leading nonprofit education development system launched the “My Education…My Hope” fundraising campaign in 2014, with the goal of providing educational resources to vulnerable children in Palestine, Yemen, Pakistan, Nepal and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The program implemented in Nepal will focus on providing resources to rural communities who desperately need the support. It is estimated that 50,000 Nepalese children will benefit from this project by improving the quality of youth education in Nepal and educational facilities, as well as by creating innovative educational solutions.

The Earthquake Consequences on Education

In April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, causing serious damage to the country’s infrastructure. It was estimated that over 8,000 schools were damaged. This had huge consequences on youth education. Even before the earthquake struck, attendance in primary schools in Nepal, according to UNICEF, was 96.2 percent for males and 91.4 percent for females. This natural disaster made it even harder for kids to attend schools.

In response to these issues, the government set up 8,000 Transitional Learning Centres, and another 4,000 were set up by different nonprofit organizations. The Asian Development Bank has pledged over $110 million and the Japan International Cooperation Agency has pledged $112 million for reconstruction of schools in Nepal in the near future.

National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) help start the School Earthquake Safety Program (SESP), with the initiative of making schools more earthquake safe, as well as educating families on earthquake safety. The program has completely reconstructed close to 300 schools to better withstand earthquake activity. Since schools are oftentimes used as community shelters during emergencies, ensuring the safety of these institutions is important for the children, but for the adults as well.

Youth education in Nepal has improved in all aspects during the last few decades, thanks to the joint effort of the government and various nonprofit organizations. While there is still work to be done in educating people in rural areas, nonprofits have been instrumental in giving resources to schools to protect them from natural disasters, ensuring the continuous and safe education.

– Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Developing Asia
Over the past 25 years, developing Asia has annually created 30 million jobs in industry and services. Job creation improves productivity, raises earnings for workers and largely reduces poverty.

The Impact of Technological Progress

Shifts in employment from sectors with low productivity and pay, typically subsistence agriculture, to sectors with higher productivity and pay in the modern industry are contributing to this process of raising wages. Productivity improvements come from technological progress within sectors, such as diverse high-yielding crops, innovative machine tools in manufacturing, information and communication technology in the service industries.

A common concern with technological progress affecting the economy is the predicted accompanying job displacement; However, recent studies invite a more optimistic prediction of productivity gains that will generate a positive feedback effect of creating more jobs than are being lost. Furthermore, industries that improve productivity with new technology will lower production costs in industries that depend on them, creating a ripple of higher demand and employment in other industries.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) supports the power of rising demand with data from 90 percent of the region’s total employment spanning 12 developing Asian economies between 2005-2015. The analysis predicts an 88 percent increase in employment, which is equal to an annual addition of 134 million jobs with rising incomes.

The ADB has also reported that jobs that necessitate cognitive and social skills and use information and communications technology have increased 2.6 percent faster than the total employment rate annually over the last decade. The wages associated with these jobs also increase faster than those of manual jobs.

Reasons For an Optimistic Outlook for Technological Progress in Developing Asia

The ADB emphasizes that most new technologies are implemented in only some aspects of a job, usually routine tasks, so that they create more time for complex tasks for workers. For instance, ATMs allow bank tellers to prioritize customer relationship management. The more obvious benefit entails the job creation to manage these new technologies.

In the last decade, 43 percent to 57 percent of jobs in India, Malaysia and the Philippines were in informational and communication technologies. The category of India’s craft and related workers is expanding to include specialized technicians who manage machines. Moreover, job sectors that would incorporate technological progress have a large capacity for growth.

Healthcare and education jobs make up 15 percent of jobs in The U.S. In lower and middle-income economies in developing Asia, healthcare and education jobs make up 3.5 to 6 percent of jobs, and business services jobs make up 1.5 to 6 percent of jobs, indicating a high potential for expansion.

Technology in the farming industry can have a positive impact on agriculture. In developed countries, waiters tend to receive the poorest wages; whereas in developing Asia, the agricultural workers receive the poorest wages. Technological progress can help farmers the most directly.

Mobile applications such as phone apps or text messages can assist farmers with tracking agricultural inputs. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have been supporting farmers in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Fiji, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Sri Lanka to implement emerging technologies.

The Necessity of Job Creation

Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP) has suffered from instability and militancy for several decades with increasing out-migration and shrinking private industries. Since 2014, the government, in partnership with The World Bank, has recognized the demand for job creation, especially for the half its population of 30.5 million that are under the age of 30.

Turning to the opportunities of the digital revolution in 2018, the government created a program, Digital KP, that directly addressed this youth unemployment issue by preparing the younger generation for occupations in the technology sector. By supporting the youth with advancing technology, the region is on its way to stability and success.

Many educational programs are being implemented to provide foundations for learning necessary skills. Another strategy involves increasing local IT and digital businesses and attracting investment for them through tax relief programs, promoting co-working spaces and sponsoring annual tech events such as The Digital Youth Summit.

Addressing the Potential Issues

As developing Asia is expected to grow by 6 percent in 2018 and by another 5.9 percent in 2019, governments are aware of the potential challenges presented by increasing new technologies. Some businesses might not overcome the displacement of jobs.  

“ADB’s latest research shows that, on the whole, countries in Asia will fare well as new technology is introduced into the workplace, improving productivity, lowering production costs, and rising demand,” said Yasuyuki Sawada, ADB’s Chief Economist.

“To ensure that everyone can benefit from new technologies, policymakers will need to pursue education reforms that promote lifelong learning, maintain labor market flexibility, strengthen social protection systems, and reduce income inequality.”

Benefits of the ADB

The ADB offers different strategies, such as tax policies that will fight against income inequality. The same technological progress that may cause issues to workers could also foster skills, job-match and provide social protection. For the unemployed, the government can create programs that support them as they navigate the new labor market.

Developing Asia also benefits from the technological progress as it allows older workers to continue participating in the labor force past current retirement age. Artificial intelligence can either substitute or complement physically demanding tasks.

To maximize the benefits of technological progress while compensating for any losses, governments must adapt to the situation with policy changes. Technological progress can then become an optimistic gateway to reducing poverty in developing Asia.   

– Alice Lieu
Photo: Flickr

Why is Myanmar PoorLocated in Southeast Asia and bordering six other countries, Myanmar is slowly working to correct economic woes that have crippled the country for decades and have led many to ask “why is Myanmar poor?” Aside from widespread poverty, Myanmar is dealing with potential acts of genocide after 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh. This comes at a time when the country has been rebuilding its reputation after holding its first democratic elections in 2010. Under the previous rule by a military junta, development assistance had been on the decline due to the “unfriendly business environment.” The country has since undergone major reforms, including a string of altering economic policies and revamping sustainable development, as well as holding government officials accountable for human rights abuses.

The fact remains that “more than one-fourth of the country’s 60 million people live in poverty.” Myanmar is deeply dependent on agricultural land, and its infrastructure, as well as human capital, are abysmal. However, some reports suggest a promising economy in the years to come. The Asian Development Bank stated that “Myanmar could follow Asia’s fast-growing economies and expand at 7 percent to 8 percent a year, become a middle-income nation, and triple per capita income by 2030.” With the U.S. easing sanctions in 2012 and an increase in foreign development investments from $1.9 billion to $2.7 billion, gradual refinements to shift Myanmar to a competing free-market economy have been the key to harnessing growth.

Recently, the Burmese government decided to heavily invest in food security and rural development to reduce the migration of young people to cities, which depletes the labor available in rural areas. According to the U.N., in 2030, approximately 60 percent of the world’s population will inhabit urban areas. In addition, a recent survey showed that “25.6 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line in Myanmar and most of them are farmers from rural areas.” For this reason, Vice President U Henry Van Thio provided solutions to these queries by offering examples of ways the government would aim to persuade people not to migrate. Some solutions included:

  • Creating more robust transportation and electricity service to villages and rural areas
  • Provide agricultural loans to farmers
  • Building all-season roads

He noted that some underlying factors which have contributed to a wave of people fleeing rural areas include job shortages, climate change, food insecurity and difficult financial situations. Additionally, he noted that there was a solution underway to respond to the infrastructure deficits that are hindering Myanmar’s development. He attested that “the Department of Rural Road Development has been established as a new department under the Ministry of Construction in order to hasten and streamline infrastructure projects.”

With no recent announcement concerning the “14,000 Rohingya who are at risk of dying from malnutrition in the refugee camps,” the Burmese government is in a serious predicament. Their main focus is on dealing with a humanitarian crisis and furthering their agenda domestically. With labor shortages being a concern in rural areas, the next steps by the Burmese government must be prudent, well-executed and permanent if they aim to answer to the grievances of their people. The goal to transition Myanmar to a developed country can come only at the cost of their own expenditures. The question of “why is Myanmar poor?” comes at a time when the focus has shifted to international compliance as well as eagerly enforcing policies at home that will benefit its people. Humanitarian assistance, as well as development initiatives, are in conjunction to see improvements that come at a most pressing time.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Federated States of MicronesiaThe Federated States of Micronesia is a beautiful country with an interesting setup. The nation is composed of four island states with their own constitutions and legislatures. While this allows the four islands to maintain their own traditions and relative independence, it does make it difficult to coordinate the four states on national policy and reforms. Due to this, the states struggle to come to a consensus on issues and have not developed as well as they could have, leading to a reliance on development assistance and international aid. Unfortunately, the lack of development in Micronesia has also led to poverty concerns, with 41.2 percent of the population living below the national poverty line, which is one of the highest percentages of islands in the Pacific.

Although the nation has a promising economic outlook – the Asian Development Bank predicts that the economy will grow 2.5 percent between 2017 and 2018, following 3 percent growth in 2016 – poverty in the Federated States of Micronesia is still a concern. This is due to underdevelopment and the nation’s struggle for cohesion between the four states. These issues can be mitigated by new devotion to development. The local and national governments may have a limited capacity now, but there are ways to bring them together, namely by sharing industries. If the four islands have one or two main sources of industry or resources that they produce, then they will have something in common to negotiate about. Stable industries also help develop nations, so this solution would have multiple benefits.

Unfortunately, industry is limited in Micronesia, requiring the nation to rely on aid from the United States and international banking organizations such as the Asian Development Bank. The nation has few natural resources to export, and the fishing industry has become limited. One opportunity that has been taken in recent years is the development of water bottling plants. While this is not a long-term solution, plants such as these could be beneficial to the Micronesian people, who need access to jobs that are not reliant on the government.

Another concern that could lead to poverty in the Federated States of Micronesia is the threat of overfishing. As Pacific islands, there is a wealth of fishing opportunities, but overfishing has led to one of the only dependable resources suddenly becoming scarce. Without fishing, many citizens of Micronesia will lose a food source as well as job opportunities. Since fish are not as available, the fisheries will have to hire fewer workers, which is one of the causes of higher unemployment. In order to solve the issue of overfishing, the government of Micronesia needs to craft a policy that limits the amount each individual can fish per week, with strict fines for overfishing, and eventually even legal penalties. This would not only provide the incentive for citizens to behave in a more ecologically friendly way, but it would also help alleviate the overfishing issue, ultimately helping to decrease poverty in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Ultimately, the deciding factor in Micronesia’s fight against poverty lies in the government’s hands. Having four distinct states with separate constitutions makes it difficult to bring the states together for meaningful change. In order to provide cohesion, Micronesia needs to establish a more centralized federal government with one constitution, allowing the states to have their own laws and history, but not their own country. This would encourage more international cooperation and help aid packages reach people in need, as well as bring the people of Micronesia together.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr

Timor Leste Poverty Rate

Over the past decade, the Timor Leste poverty rate has dropped significantly. In 2007, more than 50 percent of citizens lived under the poverty line, and by 2014, that number had dropped to 41 percent. This kind of improvement is rarely seen in the modern day, and it puts the country of Timor Leste well on its way towards building a strong and successful economy.

The high Timor Leste poverty rate should come as little surprise: the country is one of the youngest in the world, and both its creation and development have been marred by conflict. After Timor Leste declared independence from Indonesia, violence became so far-reaching that nearly 70 percent of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. In 2006, the opposing factions of the national police and the armed forces came to a head, throwing the country into yet another conflict, one that would not be resolved until 2012.

Such conflict has contributed to the continuation of poverty in Timor Leste, and has influenced many of the factors behind it. The education system in the country is poor, with only half of all adults able to both read and write. Though there has been steady improvement in this department since the independence of Timor Leste, the fact that half of the adult population remains illiterate is one which must be remedied soon.

In order to counter the high Timor Leste poverty rate, the country has begun a series of industrial projects. With the help of CARE Australia, the country is building a series of roads linking outlying villages to larger towns and cities. This project has also been begun with the empowerment of women in mind, as more than 60 percent of the workers are female.

Additionally, the Asian Development Bank is providing training to public service workers in Timor Leste that focuses on leadership, problem solving and management. Again, this activism is happening with a focus on improving the situation for women, as 24 percent of public servants in Timor Leste are female.

Many steps have been taken to alleviate the Timor Leste poverty rate, and success has certainly been had. However, to address the systemic issues of gender inequality and poor education, the country will have to come together and continue the solid work it has already done well into the future.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Georgia's Poverty Rate

Georgia is located between Europe and Asia and has become a crucial junction for trade flows across the two regions. Since the country’s political independence from the Soviet Union, the government has made a considerable effort to increase funding to social sectors and improve the transparency of public expenditure. While the country has made significant strides in recent years regarding human development, Georgia’s poverty rate continues to impede further development.

In 2015, about 20.1 percent of the population of Georgia was recorded as living below the poverty line by the Asian Development Bank. While the country has also experienced significant economic growth over the beginning of the 21st century, it has failed to translate it into equal wealth. Income disparities exist in pockets across the nation. As the country continues to urbanize, large differences between rural and urban areas continue to exist.

Those living in rural Georgia earn much of their income through the agriculture sector. Only 27 percent of rural dwellers earn their income through salaried work and 28 percent of rural incomes come from social payments. As the country’s agriculture production has become stagnant in recent years, much of the poverty today can be attributed to the agricultural sector which tends to account for around 45 percent of rural household income.

Georgia’s poverty rate also tends to be impacted by household sizes. Households with children have higher chances of falling into poverty than those without children. In rural areas of Georgia, around half of the children live in poverty, which is significantly greater than in urban areas.

In Georgia, one in every five children lives in poverty and one out of six live at the minimum subsistence level, according to UNICEF. These children that live in poverty also experience less educational opportunities than their peers living in wealthier families. The UNICEF representative of Georgia, Laila Omar Gad, professes that “We need to invest more in reaching the most vulnerable children, or pay the price in slower growth, greater inequality, and less stability”.

While large pockets of poverty remain, Georgia’s poverty rate has decreased by 14.4 percent in only four years, between 2010 and 2014. This result is partially due to the increase in the employment rate of those living in poverty from 50.7 percent to 56.6 percent over the same period.

Improving living conditions through economic activity has proven to reduce poverty in the country and should continue to be a tool to improve the living conditions for the people of Georgia. The World Bank Group has noted that the fiscal policies, inclusive economic opportunity creation and the deeper analysis of the rural economy all have driven the poverty reduction in Georgia.

To continue on the path toward development, Georgia must continue to engage in poverty alleviating policies while also working to ensure equal opportunities for all.

Tess Hinteregger

Photo: Flickr

Climate Change in Thailand
In December 2016, Thailand received another wave of extreme weather that once again reminded citizens about the challenges of climate change. The Asian Development Bank reports that this issue is to be one of the most significant obstacles to development in Southeast Asia for the 21st century. Climate change in Thailand has caused challenges that impede the country’s development in the agricultural and health sectors.

Agricultural Development
Thailand is the world’s largest rice exporter, making agricultural output ten percent of the country’s GDP. Before the heavy rainfalls in December 2016, Thailand experienced four years of droughts which significantly affected the country’s agricultural industry.

The consecutive warm, dry years created a drought, leaving the water reservoirs and irrigation systems dry in the country. The Prime Minister mandated that farmers should cultivate less rice to reduce the intensity of the water crisis.

As 31.84 percent of the workforce in Thailand are employed in the agricultural sector, the fall in output of rice production and other crops significantly impacted the livelihoods of citizens. The droughts, therefore, cut incomes and led many farmers to fall into debt.

While the heavy rainfalls of December 2016 ended the droughts affecting the country’s agriculture industry, the extreme weather created detrimental flooding that damaged over 590,000 acres of farmland. With much of the economy relying on agriculture and natural resources for income, climate change in Thailand has critically affected the productivity and development of the nation.

Health
In 2002, Thailand established universal health coverage, and, by 2013, the nation was spending 4.6 percent of its GDP on health services. However, a statement by the World Health Organization says investment in the population’s health is likely to be threatened by climate change.

With increasing temperatures in Thailand, the sea levels have risen between 12 and 22 centimeters over the last century. With rising water levels, the country is expected to continue to experience extreme flooding as was seen in 2011 and late 2016.

The WHO estimates that, if the current emissions standards remain, over 2.4 million citizens in Thailand will be affected by flooding from the sea. Therefore, climate change in Thailand is expected to increase the chance of water-borne diseases as well as insect-borne crises such as dengue fever and malaria. By 2070 the WHO predicts that 71 million people in Thailand will be at risk for malaria if current climate changes persist.

Along with greater risks of flooding, higher temperatures may also increase malnutrition in the nation. Higher temperatures are creating land and water scarcity as well as the displacement of the population of Thailand. These events have impacted the agricultural production and have caused a breakdown in the food systems of the country. The WHO believes that this is one of the many issues created by climate change, with food insecurity affecting the vulnerable the most.

These are two areas of Thailand’s economy that are being significantly impacted by climate change. While the challenges are acknowledged by the nation, solutions are being debated frequently. The government of Thailand is attempting to introduce flood protection walls however many individuals believe that climate monitoring systems should be the center of a long run solution. With over 80 percent of all natural disasters today being a result of climate change, the question should not be how to avoid the impact of the events but rather how to eliminate them.

Tess Hinteregger

Photo: Flickr