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ADB Urges Focus on Food Insecurity, Disaster Reduction

ADB20 August 2014: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) released its annual statistical report on key social and economic indicators, which calls for paying greater attention to the impacts of rising food prices on the poor, and addressing their vulnerability to disasters, climate impacts and other kinds of risk.

The report, titled ‘Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2014,' calls for changing the definition of extreme poverty in Asia by revising the current poverty line, based on US$1.25 per person per day, to US$1.51. The authors observe that such an adjustment would be in keeping with recent adjustments in India and China, and would provide a fairer estimate of living standards based on the prevalent consumption patterns in Asia and purchasing power parity. They note that such a move would also increase the numbers of people recognized as living in poverty.

The authors discuss the impacts of rising food costs and the region's increasing vulnerability to natural shocks, climate change, and economic and other shocks. On food security, they recommend improving productivity, affordability and access, including measures such as food aid that targets the poor. They also call for stabilizing national and regional food supply, for example, by having national or regional emergency reserve stocks. On vulnerability, they recommend mapping of risks, strengthening disaster risk reduction (DRR), including through establishing early warning systems, diversifying livelihoods, stockpiling relief supplies and training local emergency response teams. They observe that publicly-funded social safety nets and market-based instruments, such as insurance policies, need to be further developed in most Asian countries. They also call for climate change initiatives to continue to concentrate on both adaptation and mitigation.

The report features three parts: a discussion of the definition and dimensions of poverty in the Asia-Pacific region; a review of countries' achievements toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); and a presentation of social and economic trends, including fertility rates, labor force participation, education and urbanization. A fourth section provides a glossary of terms. [Publication: Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2014] [ADB Press Release] [ADB Website]