We have been active in Asia since 1959, in Eastern Europe since 1998. With 393 projects in 12 countries, we are currently empowering, protecting and involving 264,000 children and their families in important decisions that affect their lives.
Diverse, dynamic, and rapidly growing. But also plagued by inequality
Asia is renowned for its diversity and economic growth, but also notorious for its social inequality. In India, for example, the economy is growing by five percent annually. Yet, 44 percent of the population has to eke out an existence on less than a dollar a day – not to mention the severe poverty of people in countries that still have weak economies, like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Poverty has a devastating impact. In Afghanistan, for instance, twelve percent of all children die before their first birthday. In India, 44 percent of children under the age of five are underweight, compared to 41 percent in Bangladesh. To make matters worse, many countries have a large number of street children. Girls and boys from disadvantaged minority groups are the hardest hit.
Violence, sexual inequality and disaster risks
A good education is one of the most important means of improving one's standing in life, but it is in short supply in many countries, particularly for girls. In Afghanistan only 40 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys attend primary school, and in India one-quarter of young women between the ages of 15 and 25 cannot read and write (young men: twelve percent). Meanwhile, child labour is rampant. In Bangladesh, for instance, 13 percent of all children toil to ensure their families’ survival.
The exploitation and abuse of children goes even much further in many Asian countries. In Afghanistan 75 percent receive corporal punishment from parents and teachers. In Bangladesh, 30 percent of girls under the age of 15 are forcibly married. There are only rough estimates on the huge extent of sexual violence and child trafficking.
Another pressing problem in Asia: many countries and regions are frequently affected by natural disasters such as Pakistan (earthquake 2005, flooding 2010), the Philippines (typhoon 2013) Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, and Thailand (tsunami 2004).