Poverty in Asia
Poverty in Asia is a formidable issue. The World Bank states that 766 million people were living in poverty in 2013.1 Forty percent of those 766 million people live in Asia.2 That equates to 306 million people who are fighting to survive on less than $2 (USD) a day, which is the current poverty rate in southeast Asia.
In distinct contrast, the booming technology and industry sectors in this area of the world make the regional economy one of the largest in the world. The World Bank is tracking South and Southeast Asia as the world’s fastest-growing region. Unfortunately, the prosperous side of these regions has not reached its poorest citizens. “Hundreds of millions more live slightly above the poverty line, more than 200 million live in slums, and about 500 million go without electricity,” reports the World Bank.3
Why are the poverty numbers so high in this region of the world? Why do so many people struggle with poverty in Asia?
Here are three considerations, followed by how GFA World is providing ways to reduce poverty in the world:
The Impact of Education in Asia
When children are not educated, poverty continues generation after generation. There are 218 million children worldwide who must work to support their families, leaving little to no time for education.4 This endangers their development as well as their health and safety.
The number of out-of-school children in South Asia constitutes “a formidable challenge,” says the International Labour Organization (ILO). It estimates that more than 25 million children ages 7 to 14 do not attend school in Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries in the region.5
How does GFA World help in overcoming poverty in South Asia nations?
GFA World understands that education is a major key in ending the poverty epidemic. Our educational programs are focused on two factors: 1) keeping children in school and 2) literacy programs for adults.
First, GFA’s Child Sponsorship Program encourages children to stay in school by helping to alleviate stress on the finances of the family. In areas where it is a barrier to education, families and communities can be provided with assistance against malnutrition, which provides relief for a family that is trying to scrape together enough food for each person in the family. Families can also also be provided with hygiene supplies and other household items. Children are less likely to be taken out of school and forced to work when families and communities receive this assistance. Through GFA’s program, children learn they have value and purpose. They are taught how to dream and hope for a better future. Children may also learn income-generating skills to help their families once they graduate. They may also be provided with medical check-ups. Since its inception, 139,000 children have been helped through GFA’s child sponsorship program.
GFA also has literacy programs for adults and has seen phenomenal results for both men and women. When adults learn to read, they are able to read warning labels, road signs, contracts and more. Literacy provides far more employment options since the man or woman now has an essential skill needed in the workforce. In 2020 alone, 25,000 women learned how to read and write through GFA and it’s field partners.
The Impact of Slavery in Asia
The ILO estimates that more than 40 million people in the world are living in some form of slavery. Of those, 25 million are found in Asia and the Pacific. The regions also account for 73 percent of the forced sexual exploitation victims.6
Girls are the most vulnerable to slavery and child labor. The ILO says that girls are targeted for “some of the most dangerous forms of child labor, including forced and bonded labor, commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work outside of their home.”
In Asia, forced labor is often found in industries like brick kilns. Sometimes entire families and whole villages labor to pay off what started as a small loan. Then wages are withheld, and it becomes an ever-increasing debt. Both children and adults are abused in these forms of slavery.
How does GFA World help?
Through a wide range of programs and services, GFA provides hope for the poorest in Asia. First, through vocational training, adults learn skills like tailoring. Tools are provided to help workers be more productive. Another great example is the provision of income-generating gifts, such as a rickshaw, that open new levels of opportunity. With their own rickshaw, rather than a rented one, rickshaw drivers can keep all their earnings from transporting their passengers.
The Impact of Gender Discrimination
The World Health Organization has named gender-based violence as a “significant public health concern in the South-East Asia Region” and “one of the most pervasive human rights violations.”7 Many Asian cultural attitudes limit women with the expectation that they are to stay home and care for their families. Statistics from the World Bank indicate the ratio of women in the workforce is low in the entire region. When women do work, they are often forced to work in vulnerable occupations or in situations where they have no rights and are exploited.
How does GFA World help?
GFA is committed to helping women understand their value and purpose in the eyes of God. First, literacy classes are essential to helping women be qualified for more occupations, should they desire to work outside the home. Also, skills training is essential. For example, GFA’s tailoring classes have helped many women gain income-generating skills and the ability to work from their homes to provide for their children.
GFA has been committed to serving the people of Asia since 1979. We are providing lasting help and hope for thousands of people through local churches and national missionaries.
4 Maki, Reid “10 Basic Facts about Child Labor Globally” Child Labor Coalition http://stopchildlabor.org/?p=4504. http://stopchildlabor.org/?p=4504. July 16, 2018.