The present volume contains selected papers and the proceedings of a Regional Seminar on ‘Monitoring Poverty and Anti-Poverty Policies in Rural Asia’ held in Dhaka, Bangladesh during 7-9 April 1984. The seminar was jointly sponsored by the ARTEP and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.
Monitoring of the trends in poverty and examination of strategies for the alleviation of poverty are subjects to which the ARTEP attaches great importance. During the past few years the ARTEP has engaged itself in a range of activities relating to the evaluation of basic needs planning at the individual country level and in the analysis of trends in poverty and income distribution in South and Southeast Asia and in China. In 1983, the ARTEP completed a set of studies on poverty in rural areas of selected Asian countries (viz., Bangladesh, India - a study each on four states, viz., Bihar, Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal - Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan Sri Lanka and Thailand).1 The main focus of these studies was a documentation and analysis of the trends in rural poverty, particularly during the seventies. These studies indicated the importance of looking directly at the various anti-poverty policies and programmes adopted in various countries and their impact on the living conditions of the poor. It is against this background that a series of studies was launched to evaluate the impact of anti-poverty policies in selected countries of Asia. Since the proportion of population living in rural areas continues to be very high in most Asian countries, it was decided to limit these studies to rural Asia. Moreover, in order to focus sharply on the impact of anti-poverty policies, decision was made to examine only those having specific anti-poverty focus and to select one or two major programmes from each of the countries for an in-depth analysis.
The basic purpose of the seminar was to bring together planners, administrators and other specialists concerned with the problem of poverty alleviation and to provide a forum for the exchange of experiences, lessons and views based on the studies mentioned above as well as the knowledge and experience of the participants. The discussion in the seminar provided valuable insight on the effectiveness of the kind of strategies for poverty alleviation being pursued by the various countries, the alternative strategies that are available and the lessons that emerge in this regard.
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