PH, China, Indonesia home to bulk of region’s urban poor
The Philippines, China and Indonesia are home to most of the urban poor in the East Asia and Pacific region, the World Bank said yesterday.
Citing its report titled “Expanding Opportunities for the Urban Poor”, the Washington-based multilateral lender said the three countries, which have among the biggest populations in the region, accounted for the bulk of the 75 million people who live below the $3.10-a-day poverty line in East Asia and Pacific.
In the Philippines, 21 percent of the urban population have no access to effective sanitation facilities, the World Bank said.
Across the region, “among the challenges faced by the poor is the lack of access to jobs, public transport and other infrastructure, and affordable housing,” the World Bank said.
“The region also has the world’s largest slum population: 250 million people with poor-quality housing, limited access to basic services and at risk to hazards such as flooding,” the World Bank added.
The report noted that slum residents were also more at risk to disasters as the communities were often in low-lying flood-prone areas.
The World Bank warned that cities across East Asia and the Pacific were not delivering infrastructure, jobs and services at a pace as rapid as urban development, leading to widening inequalities which might hamper economic growth and lead to social divisions.
The East Asia and Pacific is home to the world’s most rapidly urbanizing region with an urbanization rate growing by an average of 3 percent yearly such that next year, half of the population or more than 1.2 billion people equivalent to a third of the global urban population will be living in the region, according to the World Bank.
To address urban poverty, the World Bank recommended that governments across the region adopt the following measures: Connecting the urban poor with job markets; invest in integrated urban planning; ensuring affordable land and housing; recognize the rights of all citizens to the city; target marginalized sub-groups among the urban poor; strengthen local governance and embracing citizen engagement, as well as invest in better data and information systems, for evidence-based policy making.
The World Bank cited the Philippines’ Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program as among the “successful” conditional cash transfer programs in the region that other countries should emulate.
“Cities across East Asia have propelled the region’s tremendous growth. Our collective challenge is to expand opportunities to all in the cities—from new migrants living in the peripheries to factory workers struggling to pay rent—so that they can benefit more from urbanization and help fuel even stronger growth,” World Bank vice president for East Asia and the Pacific Victoria Kwakwa said.