The Asian Development Bank or ADB reports that more than 1.5 billion people in Asia still live in dire poverty, including two out of three people in Laos. The ADB classifies abject poverty as having an average income of under two U.S. dollars per day.
The Manila-based institution says between 2001-2007 it spent over one billon dollars on development projects in poor and underdeveloped countries in Asia with the aim to reduce poverty in the region, building over 38,000 schools, over 6,700 health centers and more than 42,999 kilometers of roads, providing clean waters to more than one million people and electricity to more than 820,000 households. But it says the gap in economic development in urban and rural areas of developed and underdeveloped nations in the region has made poor people in underdeveloped countries poorer because they are not able to fight for available economic resources.
The ADB says of the nearly 6 million people in Laos, two out of three live in abject poverty, living on less than two dollars a day.
A joint survey by the Lao government and the World Bank on the living conditions of Lao people for the past five years designates 72 towns across the country as very poor, with 47 targeted as top priorities for poverty reduction efforts. Thus the government set up a Poverty Reduction Fund with the help of the World Bank and ADB.
Lao officials say, between 2002 and 2007, they were able to lift 1894 villages in 21 districts in Huaphanh, Xiengkhouang, Savannakhet, Salavan, and Champassack provinces out of poverty.
Laos' long-term goal is to eradicate poverty and lift itself out of the underdeveloped country status by 2020.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.