Poverty in Asia and the Pacific: 12 Things to Know

Article | 27 October 2015

The Asia and Pacific region is a global success story in terms of reducing poverty, but gains have not been even. Prosperity has spread to the cities much faster than the countryside. Vulnerable groups, such as minorities and women, are still more likely to be poor despite reductions in national poverty rates. Some areas in otherwise prosperous countries retain stubbornly high levels of poverty.

  1. The proportion of people in Pakistan earning less than $1.25 per day declined to 12.7% in 2011 from 35.9% in 2002, while the proportion earning less than $2 per day fell to 50.7% from 73.9% during the same period. Despite these gains, half of the population still live either in absolute poverty or are vulnerable to it.
    Source: Pakistan: Country Partnership Strategy (2015-2019)
  2. Poverty in Armenia fell considerably in the 2000s with the national poverty rate dropping to about 28% in 2008 from 54% in 2004. The trend reversed in 2009 when the poverty rate rose to 34% in 2009, and extreme poverty more than doubled. In 2013, 32% of the population were poor, and 2.7% extremely poor.
    Source: Armenia: Country Partnership Strategy (2014-2018)
  3. Despite considerable progress in poverty reduction - from 48.8% to 31.5 % between 2000 and 2010, the incidence of poverty in Bangladesh remains high, with a third of the population considered poor and 17.6% extremely poor.
    Source: Initial Poverty and Social Analysis Country: Bangladesh Project Title: Railway Rolling Stock Project
  4. Afghanistan's national poverty rate is 36%; however, there is significant regional variation with poverty levels exceeding 57% in some provinces. Rural poverty accounts for 84% of the poverty nationwide.
    Source: Afghanistan: Interim Country Partnership Strategy (2014-2015)
  5. Sustained economic growth has helped Indonesia bounce back from the shocks of the Asian financial crisis in 1998. While poverty has decreased, more than half the population still live on less than $2 a day.
    Source: Indonesia: Country Partnership Strategy (2012-2014)
  6. In Nepal, the far western and mid-western regions and the mountain districts have poverty rates well above 40%. Poverty incidence is 27% in rural Nepal, compared with 15% in its urban areas. Socially disadvantaged groups such as Dalits experience substantially greater poverty than the rest of the population.
    Source: Nepal: Country Partnership Strategy (2013-2017)
  7. Myanmar remains one of the poorest countries in the world with poverty in rural areas significantly higher than in urban areas. A large segment of the population is highly vulnerable to adverse weather and experiences periodic bouts of impoverishment.
    Source: Myanmar: Interim Country Partnership Strategy (2012-2014)
  8. In Kiribati, one-fifth of the households live in poverty, with many people struggling to meet basic living expenses. Kiribati's per capita gross domestic product is among the lowest in the Pacific. Opportunities for economic growth are limited with the economy narrowly based on copra, interest from overseas investments, and remittances.
    Source: South Tarawa Sanitation Improvement Sector Project (Rrp Kir 43072) Summary Poverty Reduction And Social Strategy
  9. About one-fifth of all households in the Marshall Islands live below $1 a day, with poverty deepening in the outer islands and parts of Majuro and Ebeye. The problem is acute in the outer islands, which are isolated, have extremely limited economic opportunities, and poor service delivery, especially in health care and education.
    Source: Public Sector Program, Subprogram 2 (RRP RMI 43321-023)
  10. In the Federated States of Micronesia, one-third of the population are considered poor, with poverty rates higher in the outer islands. Traditionally, people across the islands have survived on subsistence agriculture and fishing, and many still do. Seeing relatively few opportunities at home, many young people take advantage of their freedom to live and work in the United States.
    Source: Federated States of Micronesia: Opening for Business
  11. In Tuvalu, extreme poverty is not present, but more than a fourth of the people live below the national poverty line. Poverty rates are generally higher on the remote outer islands. Income growth has been relatively high in Tuvalu since the mid-1990s and access to basic services is generally good.
    Source: Tuvalu: Country Partnership Strategy (2008-2012)
  12. In Vanuatu, economic growth has reduced poverty, but it remains serious in urban areas. Destitution is rare, but many people suffer from "poverty of opportunity" in terms of a lack of access to basic services, jobs, and education, and a persistent struggle to mobilize sufficient cash to meet regular expenses.
    Source: Vanuatu: Country Partnership Strategy (2010-2014)