What is the Poverty Rate in Southeast Asia?
Heavily populated, Southeast Asia is one of the poorest subregions in the world, containing approximately 55 million people living in destitution.1 Based on a poverty rate of $5.50 per day, the average poverty ratio across the region was 40.26 percent in 2018, with the highest value in Laos and the lowest in Thailand.2 To learn more about the poverty rate in Southeast Asia and the surrounding area, consider the following:
- According to The Borgen Project, “Despite widespread economic success, Asia remains the worst continent for global hunger and contains more than half of the world’s poorest people.”3
- In the Asia-Pacific region, 400 million people live in extreme poverty, earning $1.90 a day or less. “At the higher international poverty line of $3.20 a day, the number of poor rises to 1.2 billion, accounting for more than a quarter of the region’s total population,” says ESCAP, an intergovernmental platform in the area.4
- Asia contains 70 percent of the world’s malnourished children.5
- In developing regions such as Southeast Asia, many people rely on surface water from sources such as lakes, ponds or rivers that may contain fecal matter, arsenic or other contaminants.6 They often can’t afford to purchase bottled water and are forced to drink polluted water that frequently leads to disease.
- In East Asia, two out of five people don’t have proper sanitation facilities. Diarrheal diseases are among the leading causes of death for children under the age of 5.7
- The second lowest literacy rate in the world—63 percent—is among women in South Asia.8 According to Trident Literary Association, “Illiteracy is a multifaceted social equity and justice problem that results in [fewer] job opportunities and low income, often poverty.”9
- The main economic activity in Southeast Asia is agriculture.10 It is common for poor rural households to “have larger families who are underemployed and are less educated,” says The Borgen Project.11
These statistics give a glimpse into the struggles of impoverished people in southeast Asia. Fortunately, organizations such as GFA World serve in these areas and help alleviate the suffering of those in need.
1 “Fighting Poverty in Asia and the Pacific: The Poverty Reduction Strategy.” Asian Development Bank. https://think-asia.org/bitstream/handle/11540/4876/Fighting%20poverty%20in%20Asia%20%26%20the%20Pacific%20-%20The%20poverty%20reduction%20strategy%20Nov99.pdf?sequence=1. Accessed December 14, 2021.
2 “Poverty at 5.50 USD per day in South East Asia.” The Global Economy. https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/rankings/poverty_ratio_high_range/South-East-Asia/. Accessed December 14, 2021.
3 Jackson, Tara. “13 Shocking and Important Facts about Poverty in Asia.” Borgen Project. https://borgenproject.org/facts-about-poverty-in-asia/. January 22, 2018.
4 “Why can’t dynamic Asia-Pacific beat poverty?” ESCAP. https://www.unescap.org/blog/why-cant-dynamic-asia-pacific-beat-poverty. July 5, 2019.
5 Jackson, Tara. “13 Shocking and Important Facts about Poverty in Asia.” Borgen Project. https://borgenproject.org/facts-about-poverty-in-asia/. January 22, 2018.
6 Luby, Stephen. “Water Quality in South Asia.” Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2740663/ . June 2008.
7 Jackson, Tara. “13 Shocking and Important Facts about Poverty in Asia.” Borgen Project. https://borgenproject.org/facts-about-poverty-in-asia/. January 22, 2018.
8 “Literacy Rates Continue to Rise from One Generation to the Next.” UNESCO Institute for Statistics. http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/fs45-literacy-rates-continue-rise-generation-to-next-en-2017_0.pdf. September 2017.
9 “Literacy Impact: Community & Economic Opportunity.” Trident Literary Association. tridentlit.org/adult-literacy-matters/literacy-impact. Accessed 13 July 2019.
10 “Southeast Asia.” WorldAtlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/geography/southeast-asia.html. Accessed December 14, 2021.
11 Jackson, Tara. “13 Shocking and Important Facts about Poverty in Asia.” Borgen Project. https://borgenproject.org/facts-about-poverty-in-asia/. January 22, 2018.