The South Asia region is home to half of the world's population and is a region of great socio-economic contrasts as well as cultural and political diversity. The region includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and remains one of the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Situated on the most seismic-active crusts on earth, the frequency and magnitude of natural disasters in South Asia is high and continues to increase as a result of rapid and uncontrolled urbanization, deforestation and the effects of climate change. In 2010, such emergencies include major floods in Pakistan and India, as well as small but devastating floods in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal as well as epidemics like dengue, acute water diarrhoea and A (H1N1). The effect of such phenomena often result in large scale human suffering, loss of lives and assets and disruption of progress by nations of the region to longer-term development, contributing to an increase in poverty levels for households affected. In this scenario, people already at risk may become even more vulnerable as the financial burden of disasters and poverty on the region is enormous. The region is also currently experiencing a number of internal conflicts, political instability and militancy.
Trends in economic growth continue to show South Asia as the second fastest growing developing region after East Asia. Although economic development is positive in many instances, the cost of living has also increased across the region, further adding to the risks of daily life for millions of vulnerable people.
Modern services-especially telecommunications, information technology (IT), tourism and transport-gained momentum in the past few years. Mobile telephony achieved rapid penetration and attracted large investments. Information technology and outsourcing grew rapidly in India and is spreading to Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Modern tourism grew in Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. There is a growing ability and expectation for quality communications both within each nation and around the region.
The national societies in these seven countries work as auxiliaries to their respective governments and provide targeted needs-based services to the most vulnerable communities, in close collaboration with Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners and external partners including United Nations (UN) agencies and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). The national societies in the region have shown tremendous growth in their capacity and commitment to serve/help risk populations. However, there continue to be challenges in reaching out to the affected communities of the region. In moving from Strategy 2010 to Strategy 2020, national societies in the region have resolved to do more, to do better and to reach further.