Posts tagged under ASEAN
The Asian Trends team conducted a survey among urban poor residents in Jakarta, Manila, Hanoi and Vientiane. The questions covered basic services such as water, sanitation, health care, education as well as access to financial services. Here is a short preview of the survey results in the area of financial inclusion.
Four out of five respondents did not have a bank account. More than half of respondents still keep their savings in cash hidden at home. The majority of respondents are employed in the informal economy, struggling to make enough money to feed their families every day. Thus, even a single emergency, such as urgent medical treatment for a family member, can wipe out a family’s entire savings. The survey also showed that 53% of respondents have severe difficulties to save at all.
Despite the fact that at least a handful of Microfinance institutions (MFI) currently offer their services in each of the cities included in our survey, the vast majority of the urban poor in Southeast Asia fly below their radar. With incomes below US$2/day, they are a difficult and often not very profitable client group. Several MFIs confirmed that they prefer to lend to the “upper poor”: households that have some existing working capital, a certain level of business acumen, and more reliable revenue streams.
Happy Lunar New Year!
The Asian Trends Monitoring team would like to use the opportunity at the beginning of the Year of the Snake to share with you our research publications from the past year.
For the first time ever, the team collected primary data from poor urban communities in Jakarta, Manila, Hanoi and Vientiane. Our survey on urban poverty and service provision had a total of 1,400 respondents, and granted valuable insights into the difficulties faced by the urban poor.
You find the results in the four Bulletins of the ATM Urban Poverty Series published so far.
Download all issues for free at http://bit.ly/All_ATM_Bulletins
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Throughout 2013, we will continue this series by comparing key themes such as education, health and financial access across these cities and the rest of Southeast Asia.
We are looking forward to your feedback and wish you prosperity in the year to come.
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;
To download or view the infographic just click on the picture.
The Asian Trends Monitoring team conducted a survey among people living in poor neighbourhoods in Vientiane between September 3 and September 9 2012. The infographic below highlights a few of the key issues that emerged in the subsequent analysis of the survey results.
We collected a total of 349 responses from four different districts with the help of 10 field interviewers. We used the random walk method to sample respondents from every third house/shelter. Our sample included 211 women and 138 men due to the fact that the survey was conducted during the day when most of the men are at work. The average age was 43.4 years with an average household size of 4.98 members. The overall sample consisted of 85.5 % inhabitants born in Vientiane and 15.5 % rural-urban migrants.
The survey had a “perception of difficulties” section comprising ten categories, each to be rated on a 5-point scale (from “easy” to “impossible/unable to do”). The breakdown in the bottom most figure shows which categories were perceived as particularly difficult compared across the four cities covered by our survey.
While technology has traditionally been a male preserve, women today are relating to technology in ways that have a real impact on politics, business, culture, and community. Particularly in the use of communication technology such as mobile phones and the internet, we see women engaging more actively in making connections and communicating for the purposes of networking or advocacy.
It appears that women are increasingly becoming the dominant users of technology and make up the fastest-growing market for social media. Research suggests that women from western countries use the internet 17 percent more than men each month. Women also talk more on their mobile phones, send text messages more frequently, and use skype more often. The implication is that these women are not just better connected to their family and friends, but their communication also extends beyond their core social groups where their ability to persuade and influence creates positive changes in society.
Throughout 2012 the Asian Trends Monitoring researcher team has traveled to four ASEAN cities with the goal to find out more about urban poverty and the major challenges the urban poor are facing today. We conducted a survey with a total sample size of 1,400 respondents (approx. 350 in each city). During our field visits we recruited local university students and NGO workers to run the survey in slums and poor neighbourhoods in Jakarta, Manila, Hanoi, and Vientiane. To read about our experiences click on the name of the respective city.
The survey had a “perception of difficulties” section comprising ten categories, each to be rated on a 5-point scale (from “easy” to “impossible/unable to do”). Below you will see a comparison of the five categories most frequently rated as “very difficult” to access by respondents in our survey.
Across all four cities the challenges of finding work opportunities and access to financial services (saving money) featured among the services most difficult to reach. Overcrowding and lack of space for the family were unique to Jakarta’s Poor with more than 200 respondents reporting it as an issue while lack of access to health services featured particularly prominently in Hanoi.
During our field trip to Laos in September we interviewed Ali, proud owner of a shop in Vientiane and client of Laos’ first registered microfinance provider Ekphatthana Microfinance Institution (EMI). Access to finance under fair conditions has enabled her to expand her product range and helped her build up personal savings. She is also full of confidence about further business development and thinks about venturing into the wholesale market.
Where did you learn how to run a business?
I learned by myself. First, I sold noodles, one bowl for 3,000 kip (US$0.37). But it became difficult as more people started to sell noodles, so that’s why I changed to this shop with a wider range of goods on offer. Our shop is in between two noodle shops, so I switched to selling different food, but you can still get a warm meal in front. I have sold at this location for 30 years now.
— Author of this guest blog entry —
Jan de Graaf graduated this year from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS. He recently finished an internship with the Peacekeeping Department of the United Nations in New York.
The topic is remittances – a subject that deserves attention given its potential to help migrants and their families. The volume of remittances that is sent by migrants around the world to their countries of origin is huge. In fact, the remittance flows to developing countries are more than three times as high as the level of Official Development Assistance to these countries. Still, the money transfer is often a painfully expensive undertaking. And yet, the issue does not receive the policy attention one would expect. I wrote my master thesis on this topic and promised to share some of the final results. They were at times unexpected and truly fascinating:
As was mentioned in the earlier blog-post, I did not observe correlations between the level of remittance costs and almost any factor that related to receiving countries. Market conditions in sending country seemed to be much more influential. It was hard to determine what such correlations imply, but I found that it was mostly economic factors – which I proxied by looking at:
Join the Asian Trends Monitoring team and Save the Children for the great debate on child survival. We are going to present some of our research results from our urban poverty series during the global live debate from 13:45 – 14:15 h Singapore time on October 16th.