UNICEF releases publication 'A Matter of Magnitude -- the impact of the economic crisis on women and children in South Asia' on the economic crisis in South Asia
Kathmandu, 5 June: On 2 June UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia released its publication 'A Matter of Magnitude -- the impact of the economic crisis on women and children in South Asia'.
The Report examines the impact of the economic crisis on the most vulnerable in South Asia—the children and women. It points out that the growth in the number of people suffering from chronic hunger in the region has increased by about 100 million – the highest levels of hunger recorded in 40 years.
The Report cites that more than 1.18 billion people, or three quarters of the population, in eight countries of South Asia subsist on less than $2 a day. It reports that 100 million more people in the region are going hungry compared to two years ago, and cites the worst affected areas as Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The factors cited for the sharp rise in people living in hunger and poverty include are declining wages in countries, and a drop in remittances from abroad. The economic crisis impacts women and children most with poor women often going without food to feed their families, children being pulled out of school and sent to work, and high prices are forcing people to borrow money at high interest , and a tend of spending only on food and not on other essentials.
The Report cites a recent WFP study published in 2009 which reveals that the total number of people at risk of hunger in Nepal rose by 50 percent (from 6 million to over 9 million) in just six months in 2008. The data from the study shows that 77 percent of the Nepali population subsists on under $2 a day and 55 percent of them on under $1.25 a day, 31 percent of the population consume less than 2100 kilo calories per day and 50 percent of children are chronically malnourished.
Similarly while the number of hungry people in South Asia has grown from 265 million in 1970 to 405.6 million in 2007.8, the number of hungry in Nepal has risen from 6.7 million in 1970 to 8.5 million in 2007/8.
The Report urges governments for "urgent and inclusive' response and adds that their fiscal stimulation packages as a well as donor assistance are key opportunities to strengthen and improve health and education services and enhance long-term social protection programmes to reach the most vulnerable and marginalised. While urging governments to address the enormous problem of malnutrition in the region, the Report also stresses the need for enhancing publicly –financed employment and training schemes, particularly for the youth.
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