World Bank flags widening inequality in East Asia, Pacific

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2017 10:36 AM | Updated as of Oct 03 2017 01:59 PM

People sit in front of makeshift living quarters, as a commuter train passes through, near a slum area in Jakarta, Indonesia September 12, 2017. Beawiharta, Reuters

MANILA - (UPDATE) There is widening inequality in East Asia and the Pacific, where infrastructure and job creation have failed to keep up with urbanization, according to a World Bank report released on Tuesday.

The region is home to the world's largest slum population, with 250 million in poor quality housing even as the annual urbanization rate of 3 percent helped lift 655 million people out of poverty, the World Bank said.

Growth potential is at risk unless governments expand opportunities for the urban poor, the Washington-based lender said.

"Our collective challenge is to expand opportunities to all in the cities -- from new migrants living in the peripheries to factory workers struggling to pay rent -- so that they can benefit more from urbanization and help fuel even stronger growth," said World Bank vice president for East Asia and the Pacific Victoria Kwakwa.

Some 75 million people in the region live on less than $3.10 (P160) per day, the bank said adding China, the Philippines and Indonesia account for "bulk" of the region's urban poor.

Singapore is a "beacon of inclusion" with its transportation system and housing and public health programs, the World Bank said.

"Urbanization if managed well can cause great space for growth," said Abhas Jha, the lender's sector manager for transport, urban and disaster risk management.