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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (April 20, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---The Asian Development Bank has a new strategy for the Pacific, one that moves away from the cookie-cutter "one blueprint fits everyone" policy that has governed its work in the region until recently.

The new policy divides the Pacific into three sub regions:

In its Pacific Strategy for the New Millennium, the ADB notes that the RMI (Republic of the Marshall Islands) had negative growth rates from 1996-1998, with a slight upturn in 1999 to 0.5 percent growth, which compared to the FSM’s 0.3 percent growth and Fiji at the top with 6.6 percent.

The RMI is listed in the middle in the UN Development Program’s Human Poverty Index for the Pacific.

"Pervasive poverty has never been a major problem in the RMI, due to extended family ties," the ADB said.

But the reason the RMI doesn’t have a better ranking is because 25.6 percent of its adults are illiterate, 23.5 percent of the population doesn’t have access to safe water and nearly one in five children are underweight for their age, the ADB said.

The ADB added that the recent government reduction in force (RIF) program that it supported may result in "an increase in the number of poor households… in the short run."

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail:  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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