East Asia and Pacific remains the world’s growth engine despite a challenging external environment, with developing economies growing by 7.5% and contributing 40% of global growth in 2012. The region has made impressive progress in poverty reduction, with absolute poverty declining to about 24.5%–but over 1.2 billion people still live on less than $2 a day. Read More »
East Asia and Pacific remains the world’s growth engine despite a challenging external environment, with developing economies in the region growing by 7.5 percent and contributing 40 percent of global growth in 2012.
The proportion of people living in poverty in the region has steadily declined. Today, it is estimated that less than 10 percent of the region’s population lives on $1.25 a day. However, much more work needs to be done to build shared prosperity because there are still close to half a billion people living on $2 per day. Countries in the region range from China, the world’s second largest economy, to the Pacific Island countries, some of the world’s smallest and most remote. Of all regions, East Asia and Pacific has the second highest number of fragile and conflict-affected states. It is also the most disaster stricken region in the world, sustaining 61 percent of global losses from disasters in the past 20 years.
In the short term, developing countries in the region have navigated the global economic crisis successfully and maintained high growth. In the mid-term, ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth is a major challenge for the region, which will require more and better quality investments in infrastructure and in the skills of the growing labor force.
Managing the effects of climate change and disaster risk, rapid urbanization, improving governance and institutions, and encouraging private-sector led growth to create jobs are critical to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity. Countries also need to prepare for volatility and shocks, by expanding safety nets to protect the poor and vulnerable.
Last Updated: Sep 30, 2013
The World Bank Group (WBG)’s strategic priorities for development in the East Asia Pacific region include:
Poverty reduction and shared prosperity
Disaster risk mitigation and climate change
Infrastructure and urbanization
Job creation and private sector-led growth
Governance and institutions.
The region’s diversity requires delivering a customized combination of solutions to meet each country’s unique challenges and build on opportunities.
The Region is increasing collaboration among the Bank, IFC and MIGA by pursuing joint WBG business strategies in six countries – in Indonesia to build the financial sector; in Mongolia to improve livelihoods through agriculture; in the Pacific to increase women’s empowerment; in the Philippines to improve agribusiness in Bangasmoro, a post conflict zone; in Vietnam to promote efficiency and value addition in agriculture, and in Myanmar to expand access to electricity.
A priority for the region has been reengagement with Myanmar. After a nearly 25 year absence, the groundwork for re-engagement in Myanmar was laid when the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors endorsed an Interim Strategy for Myanmar in November 2012, reaffirming support for Myanmar government reforms to improve the lives of the people of Myanmar. This strategy, which guides the Bank Group’s work in the country through March 2014, focuses on accelerating poverty reduction by helping to reform institutions to deliver better services to people during Myanmar’s critical transition period. In line with this strategy, the Bank is supporting the $80 million National Community Driven Development Project to help realize the Government’s goal of “people-centered” development and the $140 million Myanmar Electric Power Project to help address the country’s urgent energy needs. The Bank is also helping the government to improve economic governance and create conditions for growth and jobs by providing policy advice and technical assistance.
The Region’s strategy also focuses on fragile and conflict-affected countries. To address fragility in the Pacific Islands, the Bank is promoting good economic management; global and regional integration by supporting airports, telecommunications and fisheries; resilience to natural disasters and economic shocks; and women’s economic empowerment.
The Bank approved $6.6 billion for East Asia and Pacific for 37 projects in fiscal year 2012. Support included $5.4 billion in IBRD loans and $1.2 billion in IDA commitments, including $125 million in grants. The leading sectors were Public Administration, Law, and Justice ($1.5 billion); Transportation ($1.1 billion); and Water, Sanitation and Flood Protection ($1.1 billion)
Last Updated: Sep 30, 2013
Here are a few highlights from development results.
The China Tuberculosis Control Project was the largest tuberculosis control project funded by the World Bank in the world, covering 668 million people in 16 provinces. It registered and treated close to 1.6 million new patients. More than 1.5 million of these patients completed treatment (94.2%) and nearly 1.5 million patients were cured (93.8%).
In Lao PDR, the Bank and IFC supported the Rural Electrification Project with investments, policy assistance and capacity building to help the country’s power utility extend the electricity grid to rural households, which account for almost 70 percent of the total population, and promote off-grid renewable energy throughout the country. Access to electricity increased to 80 percent from only 15 percent of households in 1995.
In Vietnam, over 2.7 million people in some of the poorest parts of the country gained access to electricity as 555,327 households were connected to the national grid through the Second Rural Energy Project.
Water Supply and Sanitation
A series of Bank interventions in the Philippines implemented by the Manila Water Company, Inc., have contributed to a dramatic increase in 24-hour water supply from 26% in 1997 to 99% in 2009. The number of people served with safe drinking water doubled from 3.1 million in 1997 to 6.1 million in 2009; mortality rates due to sickness from exposure to sewage contamination reduced by 20%.
The World Bank has worked with Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Education to rebuild or rehabilitate 2,172 classrooms after the country gained independence. All schoolchildren in first through third grades now have access to vital learning materials and learning aides to support teachers. The completion rate for primary school has increased from 73 percent in 2009 to over 83 percent in 2012, exceeding the original target of 80 percent.
Under the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project, over 1,300 km of Papua New Guinea’s national roads were maintained and restored. Along with other road maintenance and rehabilitation work of national and provincial roads and bridges, these upgrades have improved access to markets and suppliers, and families have experienced better access to education and health facilities.
Information and Communications Technology
Over the last six years, more than two million people in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands gained access to mobile phones thanks to an increase in provider options facilitated by the World Bank. In countries like Vanuatu, eight in 10 people now have a mobile phone connection (a 70 percent increase from 2007), and call prices have dropped substantially.
Eight years since a devastating tsunami struck the provinces of Aceh and Nias in Indonesia, the Multi-Donor Fund, which pooled a total of $655 million in grants from 15 donors, closed in December 2012. The Fund, managed by the Bank, achieved the reconstruction or rehabilitation of some 20,000 houses, over 3,000 km of village roads, nearly 10,000 local infrastructure projects, over 1,200 public buildings, and five national and international ports.
Last Updated: Sep 30, 2013
Cooperation with countries and bilateral and multilateral institutions, and collaboration within the Bank Group, are integral to the Bank’s work in the region. The Bank is working with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Pacific Island Forum, the Asian Development Bank, the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAID), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and many other partners to expand development impact. Knowledge has an increasingly important role in the Bank's partnerships with clients. For example, in 2012 the Bank and China launched a knowledge hub focusing on urban transport, and a joint report is being prepared on urbanization.
Growth in developing East Asia Pacific is slowing, but continues to lead at 7.1% in 2013, contributing 40% of global growth. As advanced countries recover, the region stands to benefit but it needs to be prepared for potentially disruptive adjustments.
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Around The Bank Group
Find out what the Bank Group's branches are doing in East Asia and Pacific.