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Social Development and Poverty

Despite the extraordinary gains made in living standards, hundreds of millions are still excluded from the benefits of rapid economic growth. ADB envisions an Asia and Pacific that is inclusive, where the region's gains and opportunities are shared by all.

Inclusive Growth and Poverty Reduction

Beneficiaries showing off their housing lease documents.
Beneficiaries showing off their housing lease documents.

From Poverty Reduction to Inclusive Growth

Reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific, even in countries with relatively high per capita income, remains an unfinished agenda. Despite major progress, the region was home to 326 million people living in extreme poverty (or below the $1.90/day poverty line) in 2013. An additional 915 million people lived above $1.90/day but below $3.20/day. These people are constantly at risk of being pushed back into extreme poverty during economic downturns and other external shocks. In many developing countries, economic inequality has increased in the past decade. Without steps to address these disparities, the risks this trend poses—including social instability—will continue to grow.

Inclusive Growth: ADB’s Development Agenda

ADB’s Strategy 2030 envisions an Asia and Pacific that is inclusive, where the region’s gains and opportunities are shared by all.

 A development strategy anchored in inclusive growth will have two mutually reinforcing strategic focuses. First, high, sustainable growth will create and expand economic opportunities. Second, broader access to these opportunities will ensure that members of society can participate in and benefit from growth. Without proper attention and planning, it will become increasingly difficult for growth to reach the impoverished who remain excluded by circumstance, poor governance, and other market-resistant obstacles.

Children from Barangay Bislig Elementary School, Tanuan, Leyte.
Children from Barangay Bislig Elementary School, Tanuan, Leyte.

 ADB’s support for achieving inclusive growth in developing countries includes investment in infrastructure to achieve high sustainable economic progress, connect the poor to markets, and increase their access to basic productive assets. ADB supports investment in education and essential public services, such as water and sanitation, which particularly benefit the poor and women. These investments provide the opportunity for all to improve their standards of living, thereby contributing to economic growth, poverty reduction, and the mitigation of extreme inequalities.

 The majority of the poor in the region, including most of the absolute poor, are women. Women comprise the largest group among those excluded from the benefits of the region’s economic expansion. ADB emphasizes gender equality and the empowerment of women as fundamental elements in achieving inclusive growth. It also works to increase investments aimed at providing women with better access to education and other economic resources, such as credit.

Poverty Reduction Strategy

ADB remains committed to ending poverty in the region. Poverty reduction has been ADB’s goal since 1999 and an important feature of its planning and operations since its establishment. The extraordinary economic expansion of recent years has made the eradication of income poverty a possibility by 2020. 

This will require continued work to sustain the current high rates of GDP growth per capita, as well as additional effort to ensure that the poor are able to participate in, benefit from, and contribute to the growth process. 

  • ADB’s Enhanced Poverty Reduction Strategy

    ADB’s Enhanced Poverty Reduction emphasizes increased harmonization and alignment of poverty reduction programs among donors and member countries, as well as the fostering of partnerships for poverty reduction. The approach also puts emphasis on managing for development results and capacity development.  The strategy is made up of three pillars: 

    • pro-poor sustainable economic growth 
    • inclusive social development 
    • good governance, which also includes the cross-cutting priorities of environmental sustainability, gender equity, private sector development, and regional cooperation

ADB’s Enhanced Poverty Reduction emphasizes increased harmonization and alignment of poverty reduction programs among donors and member countries, as well as the fostering of partnerships for poverty reduction. The approach also puts emphasis on managing for development results and capacity development.  The strategy is made up of three pillars: 

  • pro-poor sustainable economic growth 
  • inclusive social development 
  • good governance, which also includes the cross-cutting priorities of environmental sustainability, gender equity, private sector development, and regional cooperation

Poverty Reduction Funds

To promote innovation and support capacity development for poverty reduction in developing member countries, ADB administers special multi-donor poverty funds.

Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR)

Japan established the JFPR in May 2000 to provide grants for projects supporting poverty reduction and related social development activities that can add value to projects financed by ADB. In 2010, the JFPR expanded its scope of grant assistance to provide technical assistance grants in addition to project grants.

Poverty Reduction Cooperation Fund (PRF)

The PRF was established in July 2002 to assist ADB in reducing poverty in developing member countries. It supports technical assistance and small-scale pilot investment projects with a contribution of $62 million from Department for International Development (DFID).

Poverty and Environment Fund (PEF)

The PEF is a multi-donor umbrella facility that will promote the mainstreaming of environment objectives in ADB operations and poverty reduction strategies, plans, programs, and projects of developing member countries. The PEF will provide a dedicated source of grant financing for collaborative approaches between ADB, other funding agencies, donors and developing member countries to purposefully address poverty-environment linkages in Asia and the Pacific.

PRC Regional Cooperation and Poverty Reduction Fund

The People's Republic of China (PRC) Regional Cooperation and Poverty Reduction Fund was established in 25 March 2005 to promote regional cooperation as a core component of the agenda to reduce poverty among ADB developing member countries. It focuses on regional initiatives with poverty reduction impact related to economic growth, private sector development, good governance, and regional public goods.

Cooperation Fund in Support of the Formulation and Implementation of National Poverty Reduction Strategies (NPRS)

The fund is an umbrella facility for multiple donors aimed to help mitigate the constraints encountered by many developing country governments when initiating the formulation and implementation of the national poverty reduction strategy (NPRS). The fund will finance a coherent program aimed at assisting selected developing member countries in formulating and implementing their NPRSs, while enhancing ADB’s added value in this area.

Other Social Development Topics

Adapting to Aging Asia and the Pacific

Adapting to Aging Asia and the Pacific

Rapid aging in Asia and the Pacific has put the region at the forefront of one of the most important global demographic trends.

Graduation Approach

Graduation Approach

The graduation approach is an innovative, holistic and proven approach to addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequality, Strategy 2030's first operational priority.

Human Mobility and Migration

Human Mobility and Migration

Migration can be a powerful contributor to economic and social development. At the same time, migration can add to overcrowding in cities, strain social cohesion in migrant receiving areas, and be tied up with human trafficking.

Social Protection and Labor

Social Protection and Labor

Social protection is set of policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labor markets, diminishing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to protect themselves against hazards and interruption/loss of income.