Friday, April 07, 2006

MDGs in the Least Developed Countries: the Asian Experience

I sat in on an interesting round table yesterday about LDCs in Asia. The region is home to 14 LDCs with a population of 260m people. And, despite facing environmental and geographic challenges, receiving half the per capita aid of other LDCs (and one tenth the debt relief), and being home to the two countries with the lowest human development level in the world – Afghanistan and Timor Leste – as a group they are on track to achieve 6 of the 11 MDG targets.

I think the report is definitely worth a quick look (and at 37 pages you can pretty much get the whole thing in 30 minutes). First, it is full of concrete ideas of how a great many poor countries, despite limited resources, can do a better job of reaching the MDGs. From ideas for improving trade within the region to suggestions for better governance (both of countries and aid), it is a succinct and well written introduction to the challenges the region faces.

Second, it highlights what Hafiz Pasha calls the tyranny of averages: as the average income rises for the region there is a tendency to forget those left behind. "Widening gaps in a dynamic region such as Asia and the Pacific represent a cause of concern, as well as an opportunity for intervention."



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