The Asia-Pacific region has an enviable record in poverty reduction, with impressive aggregate trends in several poverty related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are, however, four significant shortcomings.
The first is the largest mass of income poverty in the world. Over 900 million people – larger than the combined population of North America and Western Europe live in extreme poverty. The second is the persistence of hunger in the midst of high growth. The third deprivation relates to high unemployment and underemployment. Finally, there is an alarming rise in inequality across the region.
Many countries of the region have been striving to overcome these development challenges. However, with the ongoing global economic crisis riding on the back of the food and fuel price shocks, the prospects for poverty reduction have deteriorated significantly with slippages in each of the four development challenges. Income poverty is projected to increase by over 100 million in Asia and the Pacific, increased job insecurity may accentuate social tensions,the number of people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition is slated to increase by at least 50 million in the region. And governments have fewer resources to invest in health, education and social protection, just when people need them the most.
The work of the Poverty Practice involves Asia Pacific Regional Centre and 25 Country offices working in partnership with governments, UN Country Teams, other UNDP practice areas, national and regional institutions and development partners. The overarching objective of the practices’ work is the achievement of the MDGs in Asia and the Pacific. In this regard, the Practices’ work is anchored in three interrelated principles: the multidimensionality of poverty, the centrality of equality including gender equality and the critical importance of a cross-practice approach. The core services of the Poverty Practice in Asia and the Pacific are structured around four thematic clusters:
The Poverty Practice in Asia-Pacific provides support to clients on a range of initiatives including poverty/MDG monitoring, MDG localization, participatory planning for poverty reduction at the local level, pro-poor policy formulation, strengthening the capacity of relevant ministries for poverty planning, forecasting poverty/MDG consistent macroeconomic frameworks, analyzing the fiscal space available to implement MDG based national development plans, identifying and fostering human development-oriented trade and investment policies. Its core services in support of achievement of the MDGs involve: (1) Policy advice and technical support; (2) strengthening capacity of institutions and individuals (3) Advocacy, communications, and public information; (4) Promoting and brokering dialogue; and (5) Knowledge networking and sharing of good practices. The Practice also provides a platform for intra- and inter-regional dissemination of knowledge.
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