ISLAMABAD – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says South Asia’s return to normalcy is now being hampered by a hostile international political climate and a renewed global crisis in living standards, which is driving up food, fuel and fertilizer prices in international markets. Market in … reflected this year.
The Answering Today for Tomorrow: South Asia report, released on Friday, said it was hampered by the war in Ukraine, supply chain bottlenecks mainly due to China’s ongoing Omicron-related blockade, and aggressive spikes in international interest rates on loans caused or exacerbated in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and a sharply strengthening dollar.
The report says these factors undermine South Asia’s post-lockdown recovery and retrospectively increase the real cost of government efforts over the last two years to protect livelihoods and productive capacity during the pandemic at the expense of higher public debt.
“Every country in South Asia is coping with the compounding effect of two or more interlinked shocks and stresses,” said @G_LaryeaAdjei as we met with @SaarcSec, @WorldBankSAsia @icimod & experts & policymakers from the region. https://t.co/Bv5vUDpIQy pic.twitter.com/Stqq5hgNSx— UNICEF South Asia (@UNICEFROSA) February 24, 2023
"Yet South Asia is also one of the few regions in the world where prospects for economic growth remain strong. Acting now to make cost-effective investments in children is one of the most surefire ways to secure long-term social & economic growth for the region," he added. pic.twitter.com/CUrvENYSwx— UNICEF South Asia (@UNICEFROSA) February 24, 2023
To what extent extreme weather events in 2022 and higher prices for fertilizer and fuel have eroded income from agriculture, the main employer of low-income families in much of the region, which remains vulnerable to climate change, UNICEF said. In the South Asia Report.
However, in countries with current (trade) accounts and balance of payments, high food, fuel and financing costs have been wreaking havoc – exacerbating macroeconomic stability and requiring policy adjustments.
Strategic investment in child-centred reform is recommended.
Before Covid-19, the eight South Asian countries experienced rapid economic growth. More than two years later, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – the richest and poorest countries in the region – are now beyond negative development and weak growth, respectively. The remaining six countries have returned to their previous growth trajectories, with Bangladesh, India and the Maldives enjoying robust economic growth despite current global headwinds, and these are clear successes, said the report.
However, to sustain strong and sustainable economic growth and increase labor productivity, countries will increasingly need a workforce that is abundant, healthy, resilient and educated.
In the face of today’s challenges, children, women and their families in eight South Asian countries face three main risks.
First, balance of payments pressures and current account deficits can lead to macroeconomic adjustment measures that delay socio-economic recovery and lead to a crisis in the living standards of vulnerable populations.
Second, concerns about macroeconomic adjustments could deprive children and women of much-needed policy attention and fiscal space to address the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 crisis on children and women. This is a severe risk, as will be highlighted in the next section: if Covid-19-related failures are not addressed urgently, the wounds left by years of lockdown on anthropometric and cognitive development, social skills, and mental health will affect millions of children. Permanently abandoned.
Third, the impact of Covid-19 on children and the looming crisis in living standards intersect with the various inequalities deeply rooted in the region that require continued action on children’s rights, gender equality and human rights.
Households with children were already above the average risk of living in poverty before the pandemic. The crisis in living standards in 2022-23 will primarily be a child crisis, as children and their families will be the most vulnerable to its effects. Because this is on top of the damage caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the gaps associated with the unfinished child justice agenda, it requires multiple hours of attention, effort and investment. Nothing will achieve the human rights of children in South Asia and the region’s long-term economic potential.
Experience shows that difficult times often trigger reforms that open new avenues for a country’s development. The report claims that while families with children worldwide are worried about the future, South Asia has an excellent opportunity to find a way out of the current challenges. South Asia is already one of the few regions in the world that still has prospects for economic growth. The report said that acting now and making cost-effective investments in children’s health, nutrition, learning, safety, and well-being is one of the surest ways to ensure long-term social and economic growth for the region.
Such investments need not be costly but must be strategic, focusing on preserving investment in human capital – particularly children’s cognitive capital in their early years – and ensuring child-centred reforms in health, education, social protection and child. Protection system.