Overview

  • South Asia remains the world’s fastest-growing region although capital inflows declined, inflation has been on the rise, and remittances from oil-exporting countries started to weaken. Economic growth rose to 6.9 percent in 2015, up from 6.7 percent in 2014, and is projected to slightly lower at 6.7 percent in 2016. It will accelerate to 6.8 percent in 2017 and 7.1 percent in 2018.  Growth was especially strong in India, which continues to lead in performance among large emerging market economies.

    Strong growth has translated into declining poverty and impressive improvements in human development. The proportion of people living on less than $1.90 a day was estimated at 18.8 percent as of 2012. Hundreds of millions still live slightly above the poverty line; however, more than 200 million live in slums, and about 500 million go without electricity. In addition, many countries in the region suffer from extreme forms of social exclusion and huge infrastructure gaps, and the larger countries are experiencing increases in inequality. Development in the region will be key to meeting global poverty and prosperity goals.


    GDP (current US$)


    World Bank Assistance

    The Bank delivered 50 projects totaling $8.8 billion in fiscal 2016, including $5.1 billion of IDA commitments (of which $225 million went to the IDA Scale-up Facility) and $3.6 billion in IBRD loans. Lending included such transformational operations as the $1.5 billion Swacch Bharat Mission Support Operation, which seeks to end open defecation in India; a $920 million package of IDA and IBRD funding that supports competitiveness and structural reform in Pakistan; the $360 million Bangladesh Regional Waterway Transport Project; and the $250 million Afghanistan Trans-Hindukush Road Connectivity Project. The Bank also delivered 166 advisory services and analytics (ASA) products and approved 15 large Recipient Executed Trust Funds (RETF) operations, $1.7 billion of which went to Afghanistan.

    Last Updated: May 04, 2017


    GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

  • Focusing on the drivers of sustainable growth

    South Asia still remains home to more than 300 mln of poor, which is a third of the global poverty headcount.  Economic growth may not be sustained as it is largely driven by consumption, not by investment or by exports, which would be needed to create jobs that absorb the new entrants to the labor market – estimated at between 1 million and 1.2 million every month for the next two decades.  The Bank’s regional strategy continues to focus on what needs to be done most to sustain inclusive growth at a high rate and is based on three pillars: (i) support to private sector development including climate resilient investments, (ii) greater social and financial inclusion, and (iii) strengthening governance and addressing fragility.

    Implementing its Regional Gender Action Plan (RGAP)

    The Bank is implementing its RGAP which is based on four pillars responding to the region’s most acute development needs – human capital, economic empowerment, voice-and-agency and regional capacity building and communication.  For example, the$ 63 million Socioeconomic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls & Young Women Project in Jharkhand, India, will support adolescent girls and young women, to complete their secondary level education and acquire relevant skills for the job market.  Also, gender approaches are operationalized across the board.  For instance, multi-modal connectivity projects are specifically addressing barriers that women face in using transport facilities including issues of safety, lighting, separate toilets and waiting areas.  

    Addressing global climate change

    South Asia is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including climate-induced natural disasters and sea-level rise, and climate resilience is essential.  Reducing carbon emissions, changing the energy mix, mitigating climate change effects depend on progress in South Asia.  The Bank is implementing a Climate Business Plan for South Asia in support of the countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions and of their efforts to improve climate resilience.  


    CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita)


    Promoting regional integration

    South Asia is the least integrated region and regional integration and economic cooperation can enhance the prospects for poverty reduction and shared growth in the region.  For example, a $150 million Regional Connectivity project, aims to improve conditions for Bangladesh’s trade with India, Nepal and Bhutan, through improving connectivity, reducing logistics bottlenecks and supporting the adoption of modern approaches to border management and trade facilitation.

    Addressing fragility

    The Bank is partnering with the UN agencies to move more directly into the humanitarian-development nexus to deal with forced displacement. For example, the Bank is augmenting the programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan to support refugees, internally displaced peoples, returnees and host communities.

    Supporting policy reforms

    The Bank is supporting countries’ reform agenda, particularly focusing on enabling creation of markets and improving efficiency of public sector at the national and subnational levels.  For example, in Pakistan, the World Bank Group is supporting the Government’s energy policy to reduce load-shedding, reduce cost of electricity production, and improve financial sustainability of the power sector.


    Gross enrollment ratio, primary, both sexes (%)

  • World Bank support has helped South Asia achieve the following results, among others:

    • Afghanistan: To  help regions realize their development potential, the $250 million dollar Trans-Hindukush Road connectivity project is helping develop existing mountain crossings into dependable, all-season roads that will allow vital transport of passengers and goods to cross the Hindukush mountain range throughout the year. 
    • Bangladesh: Employment Generation Program for the Poorest, established in response to the 2008 global food price crisis, provided a secure and regular source of income to more than 700,000 of the poorest people, of which more than 230,000 are female
    • India: A $1.5 billion World Bank project approved in 2016 is supporting the rural component of India’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, the largest-ever drive to improve sanitation in India. The project aims to end open defecation by October 2, 2019, the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth. 
    • Nepal: Vocational training provided to 4,400 young women leading to employment and economic independence
    • Pakistan: 2,370 MW power projects supported by IFC and MIGA with 4.4 m tons of CO2 avoided, to be complemented by planned Bank projects
    • Sri Lanka: Supporting conflict-affected communities: 1 million people living in 1,000 communities received support through 3,200 community infrastructure projects

    Last Updated: Nov 08, 2016





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