ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
EMERGING ISSUES AND DEVELOPMENTS AT THE REGIONAL LEVEL: SOCIO-ECONOMIC MEASURES TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY IN RURAL AND URBAN AREAS
(Item 6 (c) of the provisional agenda)
PROGRESS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RESOLUTIONS AND DECISIONS RELATING TO SOCIO-ECONOMIC MEASURES TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY IN RURAL AND URBAN AREAS
Note by the secretariat
1. The present note reports on the implementation of the following Commission resolutions: 50/3 of 13 April 1994 on participatory human settlements development; 51/2 of 1 May 1995 on strengthening regional cooperation in human resources development in Asia and the Pacific; 51/7 of 1 May 1995 on implementation of the Jakarta Declaration and Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women in Asia and the Pacific; 52/4 of 24 April 1996 on promoting human resources development among youth in Asia and the Pacific; 53/2 of 30 April 1997 on implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for the advancement of women; 53/4 of 30 April 1997 on elimination of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and youth in Asia and the Pacific; 54/2 of 22 April 1998 on the Manila Declaration on Accelerated Implementation of the Agenda for Action on Social Development in the ESCAP Region; 54/4 of 22 April 1998 on mobilization of human and financial resources for further implementation of actions to achieve the population and development goals of the ESCAP region; and 54/5 of 22 April 1998 on the International Year of Older Persons: towards a society for all ages.
2. In addition, the note reviews action relevant to poverty alleviation that has been taken by the secretariat in follow-up to major decisions and recommendations by the Commission at its recent sessions.
3. The Commission may wish to review the progress in the implementation of those resolutions and decisions and provide guidance to the secretariat on enhancing effective implementation.
4. The secretariat, with the assistance of the offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Fiji and Samoa, has undertaken a survey on the requirements of the Pacific Island countries in terms of urban development. The main objective of the activity was to determine whether there was a need to adapt the Habitat Agenda to the unique conditions of urban areas in those countries. For that purpose, the secretariat has prepared a questionnaire which was distributed through the UNDP offices in Fiji and Samoa to high-level government officials, local government officials, academics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector in all the countries covered by the Fiji and Samoa offices. In addition, the secretariat is collaborating with the South Pacific Forum in the preparation of a document of the Pacific Habitat Agenda to be presented at the Meeting of the Economic Ministers of the Forum in July 1999.
5. The secretariat has been promoting and providing support for the establishment of a network of training institutes for local government officials. A questionnaire sent early in 1998 resulted in 16 initial replies. A directory of participants' institutes has been initiated and in March 1999 a meeting will be held in Bangkok in cooperation with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) to establish the network and to formulate a work plan for the network.
6. The secretariat has continued to provide support to urban forums through the provision of technical support to the forums in three provinces in Thailand, namely, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Ratchasima and Songkhla.
7. In the above resolution, the Commission requested the Executive Secretary to undertake a number of actions to strengthen regional cooperation in human resources development, many of which have already been implemented and reported in past reports to the Commission. The present report will thus focus on developments regarding one pending activity, namely, the establishment of the ESCAP Network of Centres of Excellence for Human Resources Development (HRD) Research and Training.
8. The ESCAP Network of Centres of Excellence for HRD Research and Training has been fully established and is currently operational.
9. Many institutions in the Asian and Pacific region are developing innovative policies and programmes to promote HRD, which serve as inputs into public policy. However, much of the work of these institutions rarely gets publicized or disseminated beyond the confines of the countries in which it is conducted, despite the fact that much of it is relevant and applicable to other countries of the region.
10. The challenge for ESCAP was, therefore, to create a sustainable learning platform for countries of the region to identify and exchange innovative practices in HRD research and training through the networking of those centres of excellence for HRD research and training. At the same time, the secretariat also enlisted the participation of notable international centres of excellence from outside the region that could provide technical support to the regional members.
11. Under the Network, the secretariat aims to play a pivotal role in the wider diffusion of HRD research and training in the Asian and Pacific region. Over 300 regional and international institutes applied for initial membership in the ESCAP Network. After a through screening process based on a set of criteria, the secretariat selected 130 institutes from 25 countries as members of the Network. The institutes are all active in one or more HRD fields related to education, health and employment.
12. The database of the centres of excellence is accessible both on the Internet at the ESCAP HRD Web site (www.escap-hrd.org) as well as in the form of a printed compendium.
13. With the successful establishment of the Network, ESCAP is currently into phase II of work. The secretariat has been collaborating with several regional and international centres of excellence in the development of a training curriculum for the launching of the series of ESCAP HRD courses for poverty alleviation. The courses, which will be open to social development personnel in the region, aim to impart knowledge and tools for more effective planning and delivery of social services targeted at the poor. The first of the series of courses will be conducted in July 1999 with technical cooperation from many centres in various countries.
C. Resolution 51/7 on implementation of the Jakarta Declaration and Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women in Asia and the Pacific and resolution 53/2 on implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for the advancement of women
14. During the reporting period, activities were focused on the following: (a) women and poverty; (b) violence against women; (c) women and the economy; (d) human rights of women; and (e) women and the media, all in accordance with the Jakarta Declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action.
15. As part of poverty alleviation initiatives, three issue papers and one regional study are being prepared on empowering women in poverty by increasing their access to productive resources such as credit, technology, marketing and other support systems. A regional meeting is scheduled to be held in 1999 in collaboration with the Grameen Bank.
16. In recognition of the serious problem of trafficking in women, ESCAP, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the National Commission on Women's Affairs of Thailand and the Asian Women's Fund, organized the Regional Conference on Trafficking in Women in Bangkok on 3 and 4 November 1998, at which the Bangkok Accord and Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Women was adopted.
17. A subregional seminar on promoting women in small businesses in Indo-China was held at Ho Chi Minh City in October 1998, at which the Plan of Action for Promoting Women in Small Businesses in Indo-China was adopted. A regional meeting on the impact of globalization on women was convened at Bangkok in June 1998, at which the migration of women, women and technological change and women and economic liberalization were discussed.
18. A subregional project on the promotion of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) through NGO networks in the Pacific was initiated in 1998, designed to produce information materials for CEDAW promotion in the Pacific. ESCAP support to the Pacific region on CEDAW promotion was further facilitated by organizing a consultative meeting jointly with UNDP and the Pacific Community on the implementation of CEDAW and promoting women's rights through CEDAW, held at Nadi, Fiji, in July 1998.
19. Activities under the Women's Information Network for Asia and the Pacific (WINAP) for regional information exchange continued through the publication of the semi-annual WINAP Newsletter and the Women in Development (WID) Internet homepage. A database of NGOs on women in the ESCAP region has been updated. A handbook on the strengthening of WINAP through computer networking was completed.
20. In pursuance of the above resolution, the secretariat has undertaken a comprehensive programme of work designed to promote human resources development among youth. The member governments of ESCAP have specifically identified four key HRD areas for youth, namely, education, employment, health and participation in decision-making. Major activities during 1998/1999 have focused on those areas and include the following:
(a) Convening of the Second Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on Human Resources Development for Youth at Bangkok from 1 to 5 June 1998;
(b) Convening of the Asia-Pacific Meeting of Youth Organizations in preparation for the third session of the World Youth Forum at Bangkok from 27 to 29 May 1998;
(c) Under a project on promoting HRD among youth in transitional and less advantaged countries, ESCAP is currently conducting a series of national ESCAP HRD courses for youth development in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Maldives, Myanmar and Nepal. The courses focus on imparting project formulation and management skills as well as community development and entrepreneurship development to youth leaders and trainers;
(d) ESCAP issues the ESCAP HRD Newsletter biannually containing, inter alia, information on the HRD status of youth in the areas of youth education, employment, health and participation. In addition, ESCAP also maintains an HRD Web site (www.escap-hrd.org), which contains extensive links on youth issues, including the situation of youth in especially difficult circumstances;
(e) ESCAP will be preparing a publication in 1999 assessing the status of youth participation in the Asian and Pacific region, based on a set of youth participation indicators, focusing on such areas as youth participation in decision-making processes (including policy formulation, politics and civic affairs), education, employment and health;
(f) ESCAP continues to provide advisory services on the strengthening of national youth coordinating mechanisms and youth policy formulation.
21. The implementation of the above resolution under the secretariat's HRD programme continues to receive tremendous support from both donors and member governments. A total of approximately US$ 1.3 million of extrabudgetary funds was secured in 1998 for the implementation of the parliamentary, research and HRD technical assistance activities mandated in the above resolution.
22. At present the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is providing ESCAP with approximately US$ 800,000 for implementation of activities in pursuance of the resolution, focusing on the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion: Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and Yunan Province of China. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has provided supplementary funding to assist the capacity-building of the national counterpart institutions in the Greater Mekong Subregion. In addition, the Government of Japan is financing parallel activities in the Philippines and the five countries of South Asia, namely, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
23. The relevant government agencies and local NGOs in each of the 12 participating countries have either commenced or have finished the preliminary phase of field research and data analysis on the situation of and services available for children and youth who are sexually abused or exploited. Countries that have already submitted a first draft of their country report include Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. In addition, two regional databases based on those country reports are also in the process of being built in collaboration with the International Child Health Unit (ICH) of the University of Uppsala (Sweden): one database focuses on organizations which provide services to sexually abused or exploited children and youth; the other is a catalogue of local reference material and prior studies on this subject. Important to the implementation of the research in each country was the collaboration of other United Nations organizations and international NGOs. The leading expert on children living in especially difficult circumstances (CEDC), who was assigned to ESCAP by ICH/University of Uppsala, continues to work closely with the countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion in the preparation for and implementation of their research.
24. After the country reports for each participating country were completed by the end of 1998, national HRD workshops on sexual abuse and exploitation among youth are being held in each country during the first four months of 1999. These workshops will be co-sponsored by the national counterpart organization(s), including the relevant government agency and specialized NGOs, in order to publicize the findings of the country report to all national stakeholders and to assess the training needs of social service and health care personnel who work with sexually abused or exploited children in each country.
25. Furthermore, the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) will be providing funding in 1999 for pilot projects in each country of the Greater Mekong Subregion in order to prevent and treat substance abuse among sexually abused and sexually exploited youth in at risk communities identified by the respective country reports. The results of the country reports, the national HRD workshops, and the pilot project implementation process will serve as critical inputs to the development of a training curriculum and materials for social and health service providers to assist young victims in all 12 participating countries.
26. Furthermore, from 1 to 5 June 1998, ESCAP convened the Second Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on Human Resources Development for Youth at Bangkok, which had as its special theme "Elimination of sexual abuse and exploitation of children and youth". Over 240 senior officials from members of ESCAP as well as specialized NGOs and United Nations agencies attended the meeting and contributed to the formulation of the Asia-Pacific Position for the Lisbon World Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth. As a result, the World Conference, which was held in August 1998, incorporated the Asia-Pacific Position in the Lisbon Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes, thus explicitly recognizing the situation and needs of the world's sexually abused or exploited children and youth.
27. Overall, the secretariat is working towards the elimination of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and youth at the national, regional and world levels through the implementation of research and intervention projects as well as its stance in world forums.
28. In implementing the above resolution, the secretariat has focused on supporting the efforts of national governments, United Nations and other intergovernmental bodies, and NGOs aimed at attaining the social development goals and targets of the Agenda for Action, in follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development.
29. To galvanize the concerted action among the development actors, the eighth session of the Regional Inter-agency Committee for Asia and the Pacific (RICAP), held on 20 August 1998, established the Subcommittee on the Regional Social Development Agenda. The first meeting of the Subcommittee convened on 10 December 1998, at which it considered its terms of reference and exchanged information on related work activities and possibilities for cooperation. As UNDP has launched regional and international meetings to promote realization of the 20/20 initiative for social development among interested countries, the secretariat will continue to seek to collaborate with UNDP in measures to augment resources for social development.
30. The secretariat has started preparatory activities for convening, in November 1999, a regional meeting of senior officials to review the implementation of the Regional Social Development Agenda in preparation for the global review of the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development by the General Assembly at its special session in 2000. The secretariat would call the attention of all members and associate members of ESCAP, donor governments, and regional and international financial institutions for support in allocating the necessary resources for the participation of high-level representatives, and to support the substantive and organizational preparations for the meeting of senior officials.
31. In the provision of technical assistance, the secretariat has launched a project on assistance in the establishment of a national social development management information system (SOMIS). An expert group consultation was held in Bangkok from 17 to 20 November 1998, which formulated a preliminary conceptual and operational framework for establishing a national SOMIS. The framework provides guidelines on the development of social indicators, information-generation and sharing, training and other organizational aspects in establishing effective SOMIS to support social policy planning and programming. A second phase of the project has been approved and will pilot-test the framework in three selected countries. In forging more effective partnerships among governments and NGOs, ESCAP has implemented a project on support to non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the Social Development Agenda for Asia and the Pacific. This made possible the preparation and dissemination of an information kit, "Implementation of the Agenda for Action on Social Development in the ESCAP Region". It included a publication entitled Governments and NGOs in Asia and the Pacific: the interactive process for social justice. The latter examines alternative patterns of government and NGO interactions in the Asian and Pacific region in the quest for social justice and suggests specific actions for forging this partnership. To address the social impact of the current financial crisis, the secretariat has submitted for funding a project on promoting effective social policy formulation and implementation in the light of the economic crisis and another on promotion of policies and programmes to strengthen the role of the family in providing social safety nets.
32. The secretariat continued to issue the biannual publication entitled Social Development Newsletter and it updated the social policy homepage on the Internet.
33. The Regional Adviser on Poverty Alleviation and Social Integration and the Regional Adviser on Social Development at ESCAP/Pacific Operations Centre continued to provide advisory services in Asia and the Pacific aimed at national capacity-building to strengthen the formulation and implementation of national strategies and policies for poverty alleviation, social integration and other social issues.
34. The secretariat has advocated the agreed goals of both the Bali Declaration on Population and Sustainable Development and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development through population information activities. Dissemination of data and information has been carried out through publications such as the Asia-Pacific Population Journal and Population Headliners and through the mechanism of the Asia-Pacific Population Information Network (Asia-Pacific POPIN). Fourteen national POPIN focal points have been established to disseminate information at the national level, to exchange information and to carry out collaborative activities among members. The secretariat has made population data and information available to worldwide audiences through postings on the Web site of the Internet.
35. The secretariat is currently consulting with UNFPA on the proposed structure of the Asian and Pacific regional programme on population and sustainable development for the period 2000-2003. In addition, the secretariat will seek support for convening the Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference in 2002 as a component of the regional programme on population and sustainable development.
36. The Commission, in paragraph 4 (a) of the resolution, requested the Executive Secretary to provide continuing assistance to members and associate members in preparing for and commemorating the Year, including the provision of technical advice and the coordination of regional and subregional activities. In response to this mandate, the secretariat convened the Regional Workshop on Preparations for the International Year of Older Persons in Beijing from 26 to 29 May 1998. The Workshop discussed national policies for older persons and national preparations for the Year and formulated inputs for a draft plan of action on ageing for Asia and the Pacific.
37. Technical advice and coordination concerning the observance of the Year was provided to the Governments of China, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Viet Nam.
38. In paragraph 4 (b) of resolution 54/5, the Commission requested the Executive Secretary to promote an integrated, intersectoral approach and ensure effective coordination of the activities of all concerned United Nations bodies and private voluntary and community-based organizations for the benefit of older persons and in support of the Year. The secretariat has used this approach in initiating the establishment of, and taking the lead role in, the RICAP Inter-agency Task Force on the International Year of Older Persons. The secretariat has also promoted the active participation of private voluntary organizations and community-based organizations in this Task Force. Cooperation and collaboration continued with HelpAge International. Consultations were held with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and with the International Institute on Ageing (INIA) to exchange information and identify areas for possible cooperation.
39. Regional studies on ageing and development and on multigenerational relationships have been conducted so as to promote the multisectoral approach to issues relating to ageing and older persons.
40. The Regional Seminar on a Society for All Ages was convened at Bangkok in December 1998 to look at the various dimensions of the International Year, particularly ageing and development and multigenerational relationships, and other relevant issues.
41. In response to the request contained in paragraph 4 (c) of resolution 54/5 for the convening of a regional meeting to formulate a plan of action on ageing for Asia and the Pacific, as called for in General Assembly resolution 50/141 of 21 December 1995, and to consider the means of enhancing national and regional initiatives for older persons, the secretariat convened the Regional Meeting on a Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific in Macau from 28 September to 1 October 1998. The Meeting adopted the Macau Declaration and Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific, which is being submitted to the Commission for its endorsement (see E/ESCAP/1132 and Corr.1).
42. In implementation of paragraph 4 (d) of resolution 54/5, in which the Commission requested the Executive Secretary to continue to facilitate the exchange of national experiences and information and to disseminate data and materials concerning older persons, the Regional Meeting on a Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific (Macau, 28 September-1 October 1998) and the Regional Seminar on a Society for All Ages (Bangkok, 1-4 December 1998) were convened.
43. Studies on the various dimensions of the International Year of Older Persons were undertaken and were being edited for publication. Case studies on national policies and programmes for older persons and on successful practices of community support for older persons are under preparation.
44. An information kit for the International Year is under preparation. A preliminary kit has been disseminated. Information materials for the Year and on national policies and programmes for older persons continue to be prepared and disseminated.
45. The ESCAP homepage on the Internet, which provides information on the International Year and on national policies and programmes for older persons, will be updated. Several issues of an ESCAP news bulletin for the International Year have been and will continue to be prepared and disseminated through the ESCAP homepage on the Internet.
46. Regarding the request, in paragraph 4 (e) of resolution 54/5, to the Executive Secretary to report to the Commission in 2000 on the observance of the Year and on progress in the implementation of the Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific, this item will be included in the agenda of the fifty-sixth session of the Commission in 2000. The secretariat will prepare the report on the status of secretariat compliance with paragraph 4 (a) through (e) of the resolution for consideration by the Commission.
47. Consultations will be held on a regular basis with governments in the region concerning the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific and on follow-up activities to the International Year.
48. Pursuant to the Commission's call at its fifty-fourth session for the secretariat to undertake studies on the impact of the recent financial crisis on absolute poverty and social development in the affected countries, the first session of the Committee on Socio-economic Measures to Alleviate Poverty in Rural and Urban Areas was held at Bangkok from 15 to 17 September 1998 to review various aspects of the poverty situation in the region and critical issues, including the economic, social and demographic impacts of economic liberalization on rural poverty, especially during the current economic crisis in many countries in the region. An ad hoc expert group meeting and a policy seminar on the same subject, such as the impact of globalization on population change and poverty in rural areas, will be held in Bangkok in March 1999.
49. The secretariat became the first regional commission to organize such a meeting, the High-level Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Bali Declaration on Population and Sustainable Development, and to make recommendations for further action. The Meeting served as a model for other regional commissions to follow in convening regional meetings in preparation for the special session of the General Assembly on the five-year review process of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+5), to be held in June/July 1999. The High-level Meeting was held at Bangkok in March 1998; it identified key future actions that need to be undertaken by member countries in order to meet the recommendations contained in the Bali Declaration and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. The deliberations of the High-level Meeting and the recommendations and key future action emanating from it will comprise an input to the global-level, five-year review process of the Conference. The papers from the Meeting have been mounted on the ICPD+5 homepage on the Internet and the printed report is being circulated in February 1999 at The Hague Forum, a meeting to provide practical inputs from the Governments, international and regional organizations and civil society to culminate in the above-mentioned special session of the General Assembly.
50. The fifth session of the RICAP Subcommittee on Population and Development was held at Bangkok in October 1998. The Subcommittee described inter-agency cooperation efforts at the global and regional level and discussed the importance of international migration as one of the most direct links between population and development, especially focused on the impact of the recent economic crisis on migrants and their families.
51. As directed by the Commission, the secretariat continued its efforts to provide support to the developing countries to alleviate rural poverty and sustain agricultural development. In that regard, activities related to target group-oriented policies and programmes for rural poverty alleviation, income-generating activities, rural credit, fertilizer policy issues, plant nutrient, integrated pest management and food security had been implemented. The Regional Expert Group Meeting on Capability-building to Alleviate Rural Poverty under Economic Adjustments was organized in May 1998 to strengthen the effective links between NGOs and appropriate line agencies for the benefit of the rural poor. The Asia-Pacific Symposium on Sustainable Food Production Income Generation and Consumer Protection, held at Beijing in June 1998, adopted important recommendations to encourage the production of green food. The Expert Group Meeting on Integrated Pest Management in Rural Poverty Alleviation was organized in November 1998 to review the current status of agrochemical utilization and its environmental impact in Asia and the Pacific and provide guidelines in framing national policies in the region. The Regional Evaluation Seminar on Poverty Alleviation through Market-generated Rural Employment was organized at Chiang Mai, Thailand in November 1998. Workshops on environmentally-friendly plant nutrition concepts were organized in Nepal and Viet Nam.
52. With a view to promoting the exchange of experience and disseminating information on rural poverty alleviation and environmentally friendly usage of agrochemicals, the quarterly inter-agency newsletter Poverty Alleviation Initiatives, Agro-Chemicals News in Brief and the Fertilizer Trade Information Monthly Bulletin have been issued. Other non-recurrent publications, including Government-NGO Collaboration in Rural Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Agricultural Development Strategies in Least Developed Countries of Asia and the Pacific Region, are under preparation. The compendium of United Nations work programmes on rural poverty alleviation, 1998-1999 will be issued to promote inter-agency cooperation and avoid duplication of activities at the regional level. In addition, an agrochemicals homepage has been established on the World Wide Web as a starting point for the soon to be opened rural development site. National training courses on Internet and Web site development for sustainable fertilizer information management were conducted in India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka to promote Internet-based networking in that area.
53. In pursuance of the Commission's decision on the promotion of non-handicapping environments by providing technical assistance in the training of architects, engineers and town planners, as well as by generating technical information, the secretariat has initiated action on the mobilization of extrabudgetary resources for a training seminar with a field study component for access trainers, tentatively scheduled to be held in 2001.
54. In order to promote the sharing of experience in creating barrier-free environments in the transport, communications, tourism and infrastructure development sectors, in alleviating poverty among persons with disabilities, and in promoting the implementation of equalization legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, the secretariat has compiled illustrations and expanded an earlier version of documentation on the promotion of user-friendly public transport systems for region-wide dissemination. The above-mentioned training seminar will include a component on user-friendly public transport for persons with disabilities.
55. A project idea for a field study-cum-seminar on poverty alleviation among rural disabled persons has been developed and action is under way towards resources mobilization for its implementation.
56. The secretariat plans to seek information on implementation experiences from around the ESCAP region, as part of the substantive preparations for the convening of a regional meeting on the implementation of the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and fulfilment of targets for the implementation of the Agenda for Action for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons. Furthermore, in the next biennium, the secretariat will develop a module for training public administrators on disability as a development issue. This activity will aim to generate greater understanding and involvement by government officials concerning their role in the implementation of equalization legislation.
57. In response to the Commission's observation on the adverse impact of the current economic crisis of the region on the poverty situation, which is threatening to reverse the past success of many countries in this area, and the concern that "rural poor" would be especially vulnerable if appropriate policies and programmes were not instituted, the secretariat has undertaken the following activities.
58. Chapter III of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 1999 has been devoted to the analysis of the social impact of the economic crisis. This chapter traces the transmission of the economic crisis to the areas of employment, poverty, health and education, and reviews the impact of the crisis in these areas. The responses of governments to mitigate the adverse social impact are also analysed and a number of suggestions on policy directions for the future are made.
59. A multidivisional umbrella project on evaluation of the effectiveness of selected country-level response policies and programmes designed to help to mitigate the impact of the crisis has been formulated. The umbrella project would use a common methodology to evaluate targeted programmes in selected areas, including employment and credit, youth, human resources development, strengthening family support systems, reproductive health and statistical information generation in countries which have been most severely affected. A synthesis incorporating the findings from each evaluation study would be prepared, a set of recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the programmes identified, and a regional meeting convened to discuss the findings and policy suggestions with government officials and international funding agencies. The umbrella project has been submitted for donor funding.