East Asia and Pacific

Cambodia © Chor Sokunthea/World Bank
Growth in the developing countries of East Asia and Pacific slowed slightly in 2015 to 6.5 percent, down from 6.8 percent in 2014. Decelerating economic growth in China, as well as in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Mongolia, accounted for most of the decline. Growth in the region’s developing countries other than China was 4.8 percent, similar to 2014. Despite the slowdown, the region accounted for almost two-fifths of global growth in 2015—an even larger contribution than in 2014.

Extreme poverty has declined faster here than in any other region, falling from 80 percent in 1981 to an estimated 7.2 percent in 2012. Even with this remarkable progress, however, some 90 million people still live in extreme poverty—and another 250 million are vulnerable to falling back into extreme poverty as a result of climate change, natural disasters, disease, and economic shocks. Economic inequality is high in many countries even though the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of the population in most countries have been rising more rapidly than the incomes of the rest of the population. Income inequality partly reflects inequality of opportunity, including differential access to health services and education.

World Bank assistance

The Bank approved $7.5 billion for 41 projects in the region this fiscal year, including $5.2 billion in IBRD loans and $2.3 billion in IDA commitments. The Bank’s strategy in the region focuses on five areas: inclusion and empowerment, jobs and private sector–led growth, governance and institutions, infrastructure and urbanization, and climate change and disaster risk management. The cross-cutting themes of gender and fragility are also central to the Bank’s work in the region.

Combating malnutrition and improving health

The region is the epicenter of the double burden of stunting and obesity—both forms of malnutrition. Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam are among the 34 countries that account for 90 percent of the global burden of stunting. China and Indonesia are among the 10 countries that account for more than 50 percent of the global burden of obesity.

Stunting significantly reduces the physical and mental capabilities of children, imposing enormous human and economic costs. In Indonesia, for example, where 37 percent of children are stunted, economic losses associated with stunting are estimated at 2–3 percent of GDP.

The Bank’s strategy to combat malnutrition promotes collaboration with policy makers, civil society, the private sector, and development partners to boost investment in nutrition and research to inform policy responses. The Bank is also investing in nutrition projects such as the National Program for Community Empowerment (PNPM Generasi) in Indonesia, which is helping to improve maternal and child health. In one of the country’s poorest provinces, the project helped to decrease the incidence of underweight and severely underweight children by 20 percent and 33 percent, respectively, and stunting decreased by 21 percent.

Bolstering climate change mitigation and resilience

The region includes 13 of the 30 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. It also bears the brunt of 70 percent of the world’s natural disasters, which have affected more than 1.6 billion people in the region since 2000. Particularly hard hit have been the Pacific Island countries, where the rising sea level is threatening coastal areas and atoll islands.

East Asia and Pacific is also the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for a third of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and 60 percent of its coal consumption. The region is therefore critical for advancing the global climate change agenda. To do so, the Bank is working with governments, the private sector, and other development partners on a range of innovative solutions to support greener and cleaner energy policies, including carbon pricing.

The Bank also helps clients to adopt climate-smart approaches in areas such as urban development and agriculture. Beijing, for example, is striving to become a model for other Chinese cities in promoting resource-efficient and environmentally friendly urban economic growth. With support from the Bank, it installed 100 megawatts of rooftop solar photovoltaic systems in 800 primary and middle schools. In Vietnam, the use of climate-smart approaches to rice cultivation has helped more than 30,000 farmers produce more rice while cutting costs and reducing methane emissions.

Fostering knowledge partnerships for development solutions

The Bank continued to deepen its knowledge and research partnerships to help clients identify solutions to their evolving development challenges with Vietnam 2035: Toward Prosperity, Creativity, Equity, and Democracy, which examines how Vietnam can become a modern industrial nation in 20 years. The Bank expanded its partnerships with nonborrower member countries this year, opening an office in Kuala Lumpur in March. The new Malaysia office, along with the office in Songdo, Republic of Korea, and the Singapore Global Infrastructure Hub, are intended to generate and share development knowledge, lessons, and solutions with countries in the region and across the globe.

Further Information: World Bank's East Asia and Pacific Region homepage »

Protecting Mongolia’s herders with innovative insurance

Mongolia’s winters are beautiful, but they can be very harsh. In an extremely cold winter—known as a dzud—livestock die, costing herders their livelihoods.

To protect herders from these devastating losses, the Bank created index-based livestock insurance. The project, launched in 2006 and completed in 2016, introduced an innovative insurance scheme in which payments are based on the total number of livestock lost by species and district rather than on households’ individual losses. The program is a combination of self-insurance, market-based insurance, and social safety net. Herders bear the cost of small losses that do not affect the viability of their business. Larger losses are transferred to the private insurance industry. In the event of catastrophic losses, the government steps in. The system provides strong incentives to herders to continue to manage their herds in the face of disasters. If a herder suffers no losses while his neighbors lose large parts of their herd after a dzud or a drought, he is rewarded for his extra effort and receives a sum based on the losses of the area as a whole.

Under the traditional system, it was difficult for insurers to verify losses by individual herders in Mongolia’s vast territory. Because the index system relies on verifiable statistics, estimating losses is a much simpler process that leaves less room for error. This innovative product benefits herders and makes good business sense for insurance companies.

Regional Commitments and Disbursements for Fiscal 2014-16

  Commitments (millions) Disbursements (millions)
  Fiscal 2014 Fiscal 2015 Fiscal 2016 Fiscal 2014 Fiscal 2015 Fiscal 2016
IBRD $ 4,181 $ 4,539 $ 5,176 $ 3,397
$ 3,596 $ 5,205
IDA $ 2,131 $ 1,803 $ 2,324 $ 1,459 $ 1,499 $ 1,204
Note: Portfolio of projects under implementation as of June 30, 2016: $32.3 billion.




Indicator 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Total population (millions) 1,978 1,992 2,006 2,021 2,035
Population growth (annual %) 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7
GNI per capita (Atlas method, current US$) 4,325 5,056 5,690 6,157 6,407
GDP per capita growth (annual %) 7.7 6.7 6.4 6.0 5.7
Population living below $1.90 a day (millions) 173 147 - - -
Life expectancy at birth, females (years) 75 76 76 76 -
Life expectancy at birth, males (years) 72 72 72 72 -
Youth literacy rate, females (% ages 15-24) 99 99 99 99 -
Youth literacy rate, males (% ages 15-24) 99 99 99 99 -
Carbon dioxide emissions (megatons) 10,485 - - - -
Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
SDG 1.1 Extreme poverty (% population below $1.90 a day, 2011 PPP) 8.5 7.2 - - -
SDG 2.2 Prevalence of stunting, height for age (% children under 5) - - - 11 -
SDG 3.1 Maternal mortality ratio (modeled estimate, per 100,000 live births) 75 71 68 65 63
SDG 3.2 Under-5 mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) 22 21 20 19 18
SDG 4.1 Primary completion rate (% relevant age group) 105 - - - -
SDG 5 Ratio of female to male labor force participation rate (modeled ILO estimates, %) 79 79 79 79 -
SDG 5.5 Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (% total) 18 18 19 19 20
SDG 6.1 Access to safe drinking water (% population with access) 91 92 92 93 94
SDG 6.2 Access to basic sanitation facilities (% population with access) 71 72 73 74 75
SDG 7.1 Access to electricity (% population) - 96 - - -
SDG 7.2 Renewable energy consumption (% total final energy consumption) 21 21 - - -
SDG 17.8 Individuals using the Internet (% population) 32 36 39 42 45

 ILO = International Labour Organization; PPP = purchasing power parity; - = not available. Visit data.worldbank.org for data updates.