Development cooperation in Asia is targeted at reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development, good governance and respect for human rights. Denmark also supports private sector development as we wish to contribute to growth and employment and help Danish businesses gain a strong foothold in Asia.
Strong growth - and large economic inequality
Asia is without comparison the region in the world where most poor people live. Despite massive progress, the gap between rich and poor in Asia remains large – from fast-growing economies to some of the most impoverished countries in the world with weak states.
The number of people in Asia living on less than USD 1 a day has fallen significantly since the 1990s due to economic growth that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. However, behind the impressive results in the growth economies – in particular China, India and the growth countries in Southeast Asia – great inequalities between poor and rich persist in the region.
A crucial challenge is to distribute the benefits from Asia’s growth more equally. In order to overcome this challenge, it is important to promote good governance, so growth and rising incomes will contribute to lifting more people out of poverty. Another priority is to continue the development of the private sector, including agriculture, which is still the sector where the majority of the poor are employed.
Denmark's Development cooperation with Asia
Denmark’s development assistance forms an important part of our presence in Asia. The assistance contributes to fighting poverty and strengthening sustainable development, good governance and increasing respect for human rights. Denmark also supports private sector development as we wish to contribute to growth and employment and help Danish businesses gain a strong foothold in Asia.
Through the initiative “Partnering with Denmark”, different Danish authorities share their experience with creating good conditions for societal development, which focuses on responsible, resource effective, private sector driven economic growth, employment and social welfare, while growth counsellors at our representations abroad build knowledge and relations and contribute to opening new doors for Danish businesses.
The largest Danish development engagement is in Afghanistan. Here, Denmark contributes by supporting democracy and human rights, education and economic development. Additionally, Denmark provides emergency relief and co-financing of Danish civil society organisations working in the country.
Danish development cooperation is adapted gradually according to the level of development in the countries allowing the cooperation to stay relevant for all parties, and in the best way possible contribute to development in the region. The experience from Vietnam, which is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, where Denmark has been one of the major donors, has shown that a gradual transition from traditional development assistance to a political and commercial partnership is possible through a long-lasting and trusting relationship. The same development is possible in Bangladesh, where commercial cooperation is becoming increasingly important and in the long term also in Myanmar.
In accordance with the Danish government’s decision to focus Danish development cooperation and reduce the number of priority countries, Nepal, Indonesia and Pakistan will be phased out as priority countries. The phasing out will happen gradually to secure sustainability of achieved results.
Finally, Denmark also supports smaller projects in a number of other Asian countries, especially within the areas of democracy and human rights as well as climate and environment. Denmark also supports regional development, for example through contributions to the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).
Results of Danish Development cooperation
Danish development cooperation in Asia has for example contributed to:
- Half of Afghanistan’s children have been enrolled in schools. Through programs for growth and employment, thousands of jobs have been created and hundreds of thousands of Afghans have received agricultural technical assistance.
- More than 200,000 farms in Vietnam have gained significant increases in incomes as a result of improved farming techniques and reduced use of pesticides, which also has a positive effect on the environment.
- The population’s access to the justice system in Bangladesh has been improved for example through support to education of judges in good governance and human rights as well as through local NGOs’ legal assistance to underprivileged Bangladeshis.
For more information about results of Danish development cooperation please see this link.