Published Date: Sep 25, 2012
33PC PAKISTANIS LIVING BELOW POVERTY LINE: STUDY
According to conservative estimates, 33 percent of Pakistanis are living below poverty line. This was the finding of report “Clustered Deprivation: District Profile of Poverty in Pakistan” launched by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.
The study conducted by SDPI fills the backlog created by failure of governments to provide poverty estimates for the last 5 years which has created a huge policy vacuum in Pakistan.
Even provinces, in post 18th amendment scenario, failed to provide poverty data, analysis and strategies and initiatives in this critical dimension.
Speaking at the launch, expert called upon federal and provincial governments to immediately release poverty statistics and revisit policies to address acute poverty in Pakistan.
The event also featured a distinguished lecture on “Rediscovering our Common Wealth” by Emeritus Professor, University of Bath, UK.
Briefing participants on poverty estimates identified in study, Arif Naveed, Senior Research Associate, SDPI said, according to conservative estimate, 33 percent of household are living below the poverty line in Pakistan with numbers amounting to 58.7 million people.
“Balochistan is the poorest of all provinces with 52 percent population living below poverty line, followed by Sindh with 33 percent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 32 percent and Punjab with 19 percent”, the report reveals. Refereeing to 46 percent rural poverty compared with 18 percent urab poverty, the author said, report identifies stark inequalities over the incidence of poverty across regions, between provinces and within each province.
The author said that instead of traditional consumption based assessment, the report employs, Multidimensional Poverty Index which is the most comprehensive technique to measure poverty and uses education, health, assets and living conditions as indicators. This gives a theoretically rich data spread across the regions and districts in Pakistan, he added.
Highlighting education and health as major drivers, the report calls for greater investments on human development and equitable distribution of public resources across the regions. Arif Naveed urged upon government to adopt multidimensional framework to assess human welfare and revisit rural development strategies in view of higher rates of poverty in rural area.
Chairing the session, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said, poverty should not remain merely a number game for government but requires deliberate measures and paradigm shift to invest on human development. Referring to absolute poverty in conflict ridden Balochistan and Fata, he said, “when poverty and food security take an identity be its ethnic, religious or provincial, it leads to disintegration and destruction of social fabric of society”. He cited statistics from this latest SDPI report using multidimensional poverty index and SDPI’s Food Security Report 2009 and said, Both of these reports confirmed that out of 20 most poor districts in Pakistan, majority are from Balochistan.
Dr. Geof Wood, Emeritus Professor, University of Bath, UK gave a special philosophical lecture on “Rediscovering our Common Wealth” at the occasion. The lecture discussed the issue of sustainability and reflected upon the question that, why should humans care about others not just in the present but in the future as well? He argued that sustainability and long term wellbeing is an equality issue. He said, human’s personal sense of wellbeing is reliant upon those around us. Likewise, in the future, the wellbeing of our descendants will depend upon the wellbeing of their contemporaries.
Dr Wood speculated on the possibility that mankind may run out of technological responses to solving climate change and other related problems such as food security.
This he said, calls for an urgent global social contract for sustainable behaviour. This means precautionary principle in our behavior and sacrifice present consumption for the sake of future, he added. Geof Wood concluded that in the present context of global capitalist crisis, the world may be ready for more regulation to modify present excesses.