Livelihoods, Basic Services and Social Protection in North-Western Pakistan (W-125)

Livelihoods, Basic Services and Social Protection in North-Western Pakistan (W-125)

Publication details

  • Friday | 31 Aug, 2012
  • Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Syed Qasim Ali Shah, Babar Shahbaz, Steve Commins
  • Working Papers
  • 30
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Researching livelihoods and services affected by conflict

Babar Shahbaz, Qasim Ali Shah, Abid Q. Suleri, Steve Commins and Akbar Ali Malik August 2012

Executive summary

According to the government of Pakistan (2011), the direct and indirect cost of the spill-over effects of the war in Afghanistan and related military actions, frequently called the War on Terror, incurred during the past decade by Pakistan have amounted to nearly USD 70 billion. What’s more, although staggering, this figure fails to capture the devastating effects of the conflict and its associated disruptions on the lives and livelihoods of certain parts of Pakistan’s population. While Pakistan remains one of the highest recipients of international aid in the world, with aid inflows dominated by geopolitical priorities and by the crisis of law and order in the country, the relative amount of aid to its gross domestic product (GDP) is actually quite modest.

Pakistan’s aid flows and security issues are related to challenges of governance, as highlighted by the various manifestations of religious extremism and related militancy in the country, which are concentrated mainly in the northwest region, particularly within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of Malakand division in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. In addition to militancy, the massive monsoon floods of 2010 caused unprecedented losses to people’s lives and the economy of KP. The combination of these two factors – conflict and flooding – has created a compound crisis affecting areas of KP that were already at the bottom of the Human Development Index (HDI) for the country as a whole. Overall, the prevalence of poverty and food insecurity in rural KP and FATA is higher than the national average. In a situation of pre-existing political changes (decentralization and governance arrangements), poverty and low human development, the conflicts in KP and FATA have severely damaged relatively poor public and private infrastructure; therefore livelihood opportunities have further reduced.

Against this backdrop, this paper reviews evidence from the existing literature regarding poverty, livelihoods, food insecurity, access to basic services, social protection and aid and governance in conflict-affected areas of Pakistan’s KP province and FATA. The evidence was collected from various sources, including digital libraries, internet search engines, project reports by different aid agencies, newspapers, books and online journals. Based on the literature reviewed, the review finds that the complex linkages between individual (human), provincial (regional) and national (state) factors, as well as the spill-over from larger global security processes, make it difficult to address these different aspects of security in isolation. If any type of security is compromised, the cumulative effect may be much greater and more harmful; for instance, conflict may be both a cause and effect of hunger/food insecurity (S. Malik, 2011; Messer and Cohen, 2006; Rice, 2007), and sometimes ‘poverty breeds insecurity’ (Rice, 2007).

The impact of conflict and political fragility is uneven in any country context, and in the case of Pakistan this is especially notable, given the size of the country’s population and its political and geographic diversity. In this review’s focus areas, Malakand division and FATA of KP, economic and physical infrastructures have been severely damaged and, as a result, people in communities have suffered from reduced livelihoods and access to basic services. The already precarious situation worsened when local inhabitants of Malakand division had to leave their houses in anticipation of the Pakistani Army’s military action against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in 2009. Peace in Malakand was partially restored during late 2009 and there has been considerable improvement in the law and order situation; the reconstruction process has started, particularly in Swat district, but at a slow pace. The evidence suggests that the different coping strategies adopted by the local people include migration to the big cities of Pakistan, compromising on nutritious food intake, borrowing money and seeking alternative (non-natural resource-based) livelihood strategies………..