March 23, 2010 in Featured
BAGUIO CITY — Beverly Longid, Katribu partylist first nominee, calls for greater social spending by the government to combat the fall-out from the on-going global finacial crisis.
This was Longid’s response to a joint report by the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank that the global financial crisis could trap 21 million more in the Asia-Pacific region in extreme poverty or those living on less than $1.25 a day. She also noted that indigenous peoples are not a priority concern of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The report presented in Manila last February 17 entitled “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in an Era of Global Uncertainty: Asia-Pacific Regional Report 2009/10” was produced by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). It examines the effects of the global economic crisis on the progress made by governments towards reaching the MDGs.
The report notes that the most adversely affected segment of the population are women, who constitute the majority of Asia’s low-skilled, low-salaried, and temporary workforce that can easily be laid off during economic downturns. Moreover the crisis has reduced the demand for migrant labour – and women form nearly two-thirds of the total Asian migrant population.
Longid pointed out that women are hardest by the crisis as they carry the burden of keeping the family together even as they must contribute to the income of the family. Indigenous women especially suffer more deprivation because of lesser opportunities and discrimination due to ethnicity. “As we celebrate Women’s month this year we should address these major concerns of women,” she added.
The ESCAP report finds that across the region, only 20 per cent of the unemployed and underemployed have access to labor market programmes such as unemployment benefits, and only 30 per cent of older people receive pensions.
Longid said that the actual situation in the Cordillera and other indigenous communities all over the Philippines might even be lower than those cited in the report. The contractualization of labor and the common practice of businesses of not giving the basic minimum wage to their workers has depleted the incomes of the people all the more. There is no tenure of employment much less benefits for the workers.
According to the report, prior to the economic crisis, the region as a whole had been making notable gains, including being on track to achieve three important targets: gender parity in secondary education, ensuring universal access of children to primary school, and halving the proportion of people living below the $1.25-a-day poverty line. However, the economic crisis undermined the momentum.
Asia and the Pacific is a region where more than 50 per cent of the people in both rural and urban, are without basic sanitation, of under-5 children who are underweight, of people infected with TB, of people living on less than $1.25 a day, and of rural people without access to clean water, according to the report.
The report notes that in 2009 the crisis trapped up to an additional 17 million people in extreme poverty, and in 2010, another 4 million, giving a total of 21 million or roughly the equivalent to the population of Australia. The amount of $1.25 is the poverty threshold or measure of poverty according to the standards set by the MDGs.
Earlier, the UNESCAP pointed out that the South Asia region faces issues related to health, environment (particularly water and sanitation) and nutrition. New findings suggest that the incidence of health, hunger and environment related poverty are not only interrelated but also underestimated in several countries of the Asia-Pacific region. A conference on facing challenges related to rising sea levels and high incidence of natural calamities was also called for the Pacific island countries.
Katribu nominee Longid explained that in times of crisis and disasters it is the women and children who suffer most. “These reports from the UN bodies compel us to act decisively to combat the extreme poverty suffered by families in the Asia-Pacific region if we are to save our population. Even the impact of extreme climate change we are now experiencing is sinking our women deeper into crushing poverty. We should compel government to devote more budgetary allocation and resources to combat the impact of the crisis,” Longid concluded. # nordis.net