One South Asia

South Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world, with 1.7 billion people and 7.1 percent economic growth over the past decade. It is also one of the least integrated regions. Historical political tensions, security concerns, and cross-border conflicts have slowed connectivity among AfghanistanBangladeshBhutanIndiaMaldivesNepalPakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The One South Asia program, supported by the World Bank and five trust funds, promotes regional connectivity and integration to manage shared rivers, modernize trade and investment, build resilience to climate change, improve transportation and border infrastructure, and promote people-to-people contact. Building a stronger region will reduce poverty and create jobs that lead to better lives.

South Asia's growing economy helped pull many people out of deep poverty during the past decade. Economic growth could be even larger -- if regional connectivity is improved to make it cheaper and easier for businesses to sell products. Intraregional trade among the eight nations accounts for barely 5 percent of South Asia’s total trade, compared to 25 percent in ASEAN. 

Border and regulatory challenges means it is about 20 percent cheaper for a company in India to trade with Brazil instead of neighboring Pakistan.

Trade among South Asian countries has been limited by many things, especially inadequate road, marine, and air transport; customs inefficiencies; and restrictions on investments. Less obvious factors include historical political tensions, security concerns, and skepticism based on misinformation and previous failures in regional cooperation.

One South Asia describes projects that take incremental steps in the region to build bridges, both figuratively and actual. The World Bank is providing lending and technical assistance to create opportunities that can improve trade and investment links in the region. The Bank also administers two trust funds devoted to regional connectivity: The South Asia Regional Trade Facilitation Program (SARTFP), a trust fund supported by Australia, and the Program for Asia Connectivity (PACT), a trust fund supported by the UK's Department for International Development,


Three major rivers flow from the Himalayan mountains, providing crucial water supplies for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Shared managedment of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra rivers can increase fair and inclusive development and climate change resilience throughout the region. Likewise, shared management is also important for the environmentally fragile Sundarbans area that stretches across the border of Bangladesh and India.

The South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI) is a multi-donor trust fund supported by the United Kingdom, Australia, and Norway, and administered by the World Bank. SAWI activities aim to strengthen knowledge about surface and ground water, enhance technical capacity in water management, promote dialogue to build trust, and inform future World Bank water projects.


Blog series:  Water in South Asia

South Asia Water Initiative documents and project reports


Extreme weather events do not respect national borders.

Regional connectivity and collaboration can help South Asia build resilience to droughts, flooding, cyclones, and climate change. During the past two decades, more than half of those living in the region -- 750 million people -- have been affected by at least one natural disaster. Based on current weather trends, losses in the region will average $160 billion annually by 2030 and will cut GDP by nearly 2 percent annually by 2050.

A trust fund supported by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development aims to increase resilience with innovative weather services in the region that stretches from Afghanistan to Myanmar. The fund, Program for Asia Resilience to Climate Change, is administered by the World Bank.


Blog series:  Climate change in South Asia


Reports, Working Papers and Publications

Op-Eds and Interviews


#OneSouthAsia Blog Series


Watch more on South Asia


South Asia Economic Students’ Meet (SAESM)

South Asia Regional Trade and Integration Conference (SARTIC)

South Asia Economic Conclave (SAEC)

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