Emerging economies and widespread poverty
Development in Asia is more diverse than on any other continent: China and India have been key global players on the international economic and political stage for quite some time. Economic progress in the region, on the other hand, has not been of much benefit to other countries like Mongolia, Nepal or Tajikistan. While Asia as a whole is very economically dynamic and has high rates of growth, most of its population is still considered very poor. Even though poverty rates are declining in East Asia overall – which can be primarily attributed to China's economic success, there are still more than 700 million people living in absolute poverty in Asia, which represents roughly two-thirds of all people in absolute poverty around the world.
The political situation in the individual countries is also extremely different: India is considered the "largest democracy" in the world but, at the same time, there are politically unstable nations, some with ongoing armed conflicts such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Human rights violations are the order of the day in some countries, women face discrimination and ethnic minorities are persecuted.
The rapid economic upswing in East and South Asia is also increasingly damaging the environment. In large cities such as Jakarta, too much groundwater is extracted, causing the ground to sink and sewage is often not adequately treated. Smog and smog alerts are everyday occurrences in Delhi and Peking. Throughout Asia, huge swathes of forest are cleared every year which contributes to climate change. In Bangladesh, large areas are covered in water time and again during severe climate-related flooding.
KfW Development Bank works with many countries in Asia on behalf of the German Federal Government to fight poverty and climate change and protect the environment: these efforts include increasing the use of renewable energy sources and preserving biodiversity. Support is provided for efficient financial institutions that help small and medium-sized enterprises create jobs. In countries affected by conflict and crisis, KfW is active in conflict prevention and peacekeeping and provides support for "good governance". KfW Development Bank pledged a total of EUR 1.7 billion to Asian countries in 2013.