Solving Asia’s Poverty Problem – Part 1

This is my official entry to the Asia Challengee 2010 essay writing contest. Unfortunately I did not win this contest so I am posting it in my blog. Otherwise you would be reading it at Time Magazine, so be happy that you read it first here at www.zdiaz.com. hehehehehe :-)

What is the most important challenge facing Asia over the next decade? Why? and what should be done about it ? These words stuck with me while I read the last page of the August 2010 issue of Times Magazine on the 29th of August. I usually do not read ads, but somehow for some reason I read this one and found out that the deadline for this essay contest is on the 31st. I quickly researched about Asia in the internet and realized that there are a lot of things to write on. Issues that affect Asia ranging from the most popular such as global warming to corrupt governments to birth control flooded my mind. I am in a quandary as to what to write on.

Amongst all of these issues which is the most important? Having an Industrial Engineering degree for my undergraduate course, I have always believed in the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle which was first postulated by famed Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto postulates that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The principle helps us focus on the “vital few.” Guided by the Pareto principle I asked myself given Asia’s possible challenges in the next decade, what is Asia’s most important challenge such that in solving this you give a solution to other challenges as well?

There is no easy answer, but later on I became convinced that the answer is Poverty. Asia’s most important challenge over the next decade is how to solve the problem of poverty. In fact this problem has been nagging not only Asia but the entire world for several decades if not centuries.

Poverty, a small seven letter word which seems such a generalization of the problem but in reality is the root cause of all problems and will continue to be a challenge that Asia will face in the next decade.

A study by the Asian Development bank reveals that close to 900 million of the world’s poor (i.e., those who survive on less than $1 a day) live in the Asian and Pacific region and nearly one in three Asian is poor. South Asia, one of the poorest subregions in the world, now has more than half a billion poor people, of whom 450 million are in India. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has 225 million poor, and about 55 million more are in Southeast Asia.1

As a result of poverty in Asia, the region has the highest number of malnourished children and has one of the poorest health care among the continents. This may come as a surprise as Africa has always been identified with having lots of malnourished children. However a Reuters report released in August of 2008 revealed that India, Bangladesh and Pakistan together account for half the world’s underweight children according as reported by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). The same report states that 30 percent of children under five in Asia-Pacific are underweight as compared to sub-Saharan Africa’s 28 percent. 2 According to the Global Hunger Index, South Asia has the highest child malnutrition rate. 3 Every year, world wide, more than half a million women die in pregnancy or childbirth. Almost 90% of maternal deaths occur in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 4 If you are malnourished, no need to go into a diet using generic Phentermine.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Solving Asia’s Poverty Problem – Part 2

Sources:

1.http://www.adb.org/documents/policies/poverty_reduction/Poverty_Policy.pdf
2. http://www.alertnet.org/db/an_art/52132/2008/07/7-105403-1.htm
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty#cite_note-ghi2008-61
4. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/220376.stm

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