The Asia-Pacific region has made impressive gains in poverty reduction during the past three decades. The proportion of poor almost halved during this period: in 2011, less than 20% of the region’s population lived on US$1.25 per day or less, as compared to more than 50% in 1990. The absolute number of people living in poverty in the Asia-Pacific region came down from 1.6 billion to about 0.9 billion—still a formidable number—during the same period (United Nations Economics and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [UNESCAP], 2013).
Poverty is no longer measured only in terms of income deprivation. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) measures acute human poverty, which considers people deprived in one-third or more of the 10 indicators of the three dimensions of health, education, and living conditions to be extremely poor. The deprivation of good health reflects the survival of the individual; the deprivation of education shows the lack of knowledge needed to fully participate in all spheres of life; and the deprivation of living conditions relates to a decent standard of living. About 1.1 billion people in the region, which is 200 million more than those affected by income poverty, suffer multiple deprivations as measured by the MPI (Alkire et al, 2011).