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Among the cities that the ATM team researched this year, Vientiane stood out for its small population and its close integration to the surrounding rural communities. Vientiane, the capital of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is the second smallest ASEAN capital after Bandar Seri Begawan of Brunei Darussalam. It has a population of 700,000 people, which is tiny compared to 23 million in the Greater Jakarta Area, Manila (16.3 million), or Hanoi (6.5 million).
Despite being small and relatively underdeveloped, Vientiane has grown rapidly in the last few years. The economy is booming with a growth of 8% per year, and the country is set to join the World Trade Organisation in 2013. However, the growth is not distributed equitably with mining, forestry, hydro and tourism as the major drivers of the economy.
The poor are often left on the side lines, suffering from a lack of infrastructure and inaccessible services. The field interviews and case studies in this bulletin illustrate the tremendous challenges Vientiane’s administrators are faced with. In this bulletin we look into the following issues:
- wide service gaps for the poor, specifically in the areas of health and education;
In 2012, we traveled to four cities and conducted a survey on the challenges for the urban poor. The result are four bulletins containing primary data and case studies from the field.
The Asian Trends Monitoring team continues its reporting on the state of urban poverty in Southeast Asia. After the first two issues on Jakarta and Manila, the team now releases a bulletin on a city that is markedly different from the first two: Hanoi, Vietnam.
Unlike the more developed economies of Indonesia and the Philippines, Vietnam is very much an economy in transition. With its recent rise into the cluster of middle income countries (countries with a GDP per capita of US$1,000 or more), Vietnam has an opportunity to adjust its growth strategy to become more inclusive and lift millions of its people out of poverty. One of the best places to start would be its capital city. Hanoi, unlike Jakarta and Manila, is not quite a megacity, but it is definitely heading in that direction. Thus, Hanoi must rethink its strategies and models for service provision in order to remain inclusive and accessible throughout this period of growth.
This issue of the Asian Trends Monitoring Bulletin analyses the living conditions that Hanoi’s poor residents must contend with, and the services that are in place to assist them. More specifically, we look into the potential roles of empowerment strategies such as microfinance and social businesses as viable ways to close service gaps in cities like Hanoi.
The latest infographic from the ATM team tells a story about Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, and how it fares in its struggle to provide basic services for its people. The numbers and information in the infographic are a combination of secondary data from the World Bank, primary data from the ATM poverty profile survey, as well as information from interviews the team conducted in the field.
This infographic highlights the emerging issues that Hanoi’s poor must contend with. Although Vietnam’s GDP is growing and income levels among the poor are rising, it does not necessarily translate into improved access to services. There are several limitations to the government’s service provision capacity, which leads to things like a strict “poor list” of eligible households.
If you want to read more about poverty alleviation efforts in Hanoi, go to “Asian Trends Monitoring Bulletin 18: Empowering Hanoi’s Poor”, available online and as a PDF. In it, we discuss the different strategies for poverty alleviation that would be more effective in improving the lives of the poor without putting additional strain on the government budgets. We also conduct foresight analysis on the alternative futures of Hanoi, in order to help the people and planners in Hanoi decide what path they would like to take.
The international narrative on Manila paints the picture of a metropolis full of promise. Manila is the economic and political nucleus of a Philippines national economy that is at full throttle, with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 3.7% per annum and a GDP per capita of US$4,073 in 2011, adjusted for purchasing power parity. The country itself has a Human Development Index rank that is higher than its GNI per capita rank, implying that the Philippines is doing very well on non-income HDI indicators. Where the government leaves gaps in service delivery, often, a thriving civil society in Manila sets out to serve the needy. There is a plethora of non-government organisations operating in the various sectors of the city.
However, this growing megacity is not without its problems. Approximately 16.3 million people inhabit an area of only 38.55 square kilometres, which makes it the most densely populated city in the world. This density is highest in the poor areas of the city: people living in Manila’s slums have to cook, work, and share their lives with 72,000 other people per square kilometre. These people often have trouble obtaining access to the most basic amenities such as clean water, modern sanitation, and health care. Moreover, depressed housing conditions, lack of job opportunities and rampant inequality are worrying trends among Manila’s urban population.
Jakarta, Indonesia: capital of Southeast Asia’s largest democracy and the fourth most populous country in the world at 238 million (2011 data). Home to over 23 million people, the Greater Jakarta Area (Jabodetabek) is the largest megacity in Asia and the third largest in the world.
To outsiders, Jakarta is a shining example of Indonesia’s development. To businesses, it is a thriving market with a skilled labour force and skyrocketing consumption rates. To its middle class, it is a city that is still able to provide everything they need, despite stressful levels of congestion. But to its poor, Jakarta presents a very different picture.
Jakarta’s poor live in the scattered pockets of urban slums and witness a very different side of the city. To the poor, Jakarta is a city where basic services are out of reach and decent job opportunities are scarce. Despite their best efforts, they struggle even for minimum subsistence. How can a city growing so fast leave so many behind?
While Asia is home to some of the most vibrant economies in the world, it is also the global epicentre for some of the worst human development indicators. Around 700 million people live without access to safe drinking water in Asia, and a staggering two billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, exposing them to disease and often deadly infections. Poor water and sanitation governance continues to plague Asia, casting a dark shadow over the future with the United Nations expecting 3.5 billion people to be living in water-scarce and water-stress areas in the coming decade.
Access to water has important implications for health, education, poverty and the environment. Children around the world are missing an incredible 440 million school-days per year due to diseases related to water, sanitation and hygiene. In adults, these diseases lead to productivity and income losses equivalent to millions of dollars per year, mostly among the poor. Moreover, contaminated water is one of the leading causes of diarrhoea, responsible for one-fifth of child mortality under the age of five. Lack of clean water and sanitation could result in losses of billions of dollars and stunted economic progress, leaving Asia’s poorest further behind.
Migrants cross the globe and traverse countries in search of employment or micro-business opportunities; in 2010, the estimated number of international migrants worldwide was 213 million, of whom 28% were located in Asia. The estimated numbers for internal migrants are even greater at 740 million worldwide in 2009. It is known that remittances sent home by international migrants are a bigger source of foreign income than Overseas Development Assistance, constituting US$325 billion in 2010 versus US$127 billion recorded for Overseas Development Assistance.1 Movement of people towards and within ASEAN is significant: there were an estimated 6.7 million international migrants in this region in 2010, not to mention millions of internal migrants, who provide much needed remittance income for families in source countries where employment opportunities are limited or lesser remunerated.
The Asian Trends Monitoring Bulletin will undertake an end of the year overhaul including a festive break and will resume active posting in the beginning of January. We can’t promise anything, but look out for a fresh design when we are back from the break!
In the meanwhile we would like to point your attention to our collection of past issues. For online reading just click on the covers in the bookshelf below, for offline reading go to the download section where you will also find PDF versions for download.
This year we covered pro-poor trends for information & communication technology, the ASEAN trade game, disaster risk reduction and recovery in communities in Aceh, the rice industry in Thailand and beyond, and the growing inequality in Asia (incl. 3 data posters) as well as innovative interventions against inequality. Just make your pick.
Happy festive period and a Happy New Year everyone!
In the Asian Trends Monitoring (ATM) Bulletin 12: Rising Asia, Growing Inequalities, we highlighted some inequalities that still persist throughout ASEAN, despite rapid economic growth. This issue seeks to highlight several interventions developed to close these gaps. Moreover, the examples are meant to bring life to the numbers and illustrate a range of successful approaches in tackling the inequities highlighted.
The interventions we have chosen vary greatly in size and scope. This allows us not only to provide a clearer picture of the wide array of existing innovations and interventions, but also touch on the strengths and weaknesses that differentiate the efforts of governments from those of grassroots organisations.
Our first section discusses interventions in providing basic infrastructure. We showcase three examples of small-scale, market-driven interventions in the provision of water, rural electrification and clean cooking methods, as well as a broad overview of national-level approaches in rural electrification. We discuss why these small start-ups have enjoyed much success in filling the gaps that governments cannot reach