Pakistan’s experience with MDGs, like most developing countries, remains mixed. The country is ahead or on track to achieve several targets related to women, health and the environment. These include targets such as proportion of women in parliament, availability of female health workers, children with access to ORT, HIV and TB indicators, use of CNG and land area for wildlife protection. However, there are many indicators on which Pakistan lags — unfortunately, Pakistan is off-track in one of the most important indicators, namely, infant mortality.
There seems to be a clear disconnect between the macro and micro economic performance in the country. For example, while education and health coverage has improved in absolute terms, there is still a decline in medium and long run economic growth rates. Similarly, while allocations towards education and health have increased, disbursement (relative to GDP) has declined. Further, rising per capita incomes are not matched by increasing access to basic services.
Pakistan’s limited success with meeting the MDG can be attributed to uncoordinated implementation, lack of local capacity in terms of human and financial resources, affecting service delivery, and dearth of fiscal discipline, contributing towards diversion of pro-poor expenditures into other uses. This is evidenced by recent cuts in public sector development programs in education and health and fund diversion towards short term cash-based social safety nets and to elected representatives for discretionary spending in their own constituencies. Further, the past list of MDGs was not comprehensive enough to address the challenges faced by Pakistan. Issues that were severely neglected include food security, climate change and a comprehensive strategy for youth engagement. As the government decides to embrace the post-2015 development agenda, new goals should focus on local level governance, accountability measures at all administrative tiers, and pro-poor investments. Measures that trace community abilities that demand and use of social services could also be tracked.
This article was originally published at: SANDEE Newsletter, Nepal, No. 25 / Spring 2013
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.