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Published Date: Dec 14, 2011


Speakers at a seminar on Tuesday said being host to almost half of the world`s poor population South Asia needed to redefine its approach towards alleviating poverty.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the 14th Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) titled: `Re-defining Paradigms of Sustainable Development in South Asia` they said lack of awareness, communication gap and low education level led to social conflicts and gender biases among communities.
The three-day conference, which began on Tuesday, is being organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Addressing on the occasion Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar said that the South Asia region had always followed the policy of `looking at the West` for development but it missed where it wanted to go and now the time had come to adopt a policy of `looking at the East` keeping in view the regional economic cooperation.
Experts highlighted various success stories related to community uplift in terms of health and education with the help of advanced telecommunication systems which supported many functions like providing tele-medicines to remote areas.
Dr Sabina Alkire of the Oxford University`s Poverty and Human Development Initiative said the measurement of poverty needed to take into account multi-faceted nature of deprivations faced by the poor.
She shared the salient findings of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2011 with particular reference to South Asia, which was launched by the UNDP Human Development Report Office.
According to the MPI 2011, as many as half of the population of Pakistan is poor and the country needs to adopt its national multidimensional poverty line so as to take into account the multiple deprivations in education, health and living standards that 82.7 million poor face.
Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, said the conference would help analyse whether the Western prescriptions so far were relevant, financially viable and had the capacity to meet the demands at grassroots level.
“This conference would also try to come up with new normative approach for our existing problems and we hope that it will lead to revised solutions,” added Dr Suleri.
He said South Asia needed to move on philosophy of looking at each other for survival and doing businesses to enable their people to get benefit out of the growing regionalism, he also supported the idea of granting MFN status to India.
In the session on `livelihood options in conflict affected situations` lack of awareness is one factor that goes unnoticed when it comes to identifying the reasons of low coverage of Social Safety Nets in Pakistan, said Dr. Babar Shahbaz of Faisalabad University.
Gayarthi Lokuge from Sri Lanka said rivalries amongst ethnic groups was a major cause of non-cooperation in the fishermen community and can be tackled if the government provided a working support system for all fishermen.
During the session on `Literature in South Asia: building bridges through fact and fiction`, the speakers said that literature works as a means of expanding minds and providing deep insights on social and political issues that must be expressed to attain the greater goal of human development.
They said the literature has helped bridge the gap between different societies of not only South Asia, but also throughout the World.
During the session `Analysis of land rights situation in Pakistan jointly organised by Mehnaz Ajmal Paracha, of Oxfam GB and chaired by MPA Sindh Sharmila Farooqi, it was highlighted that land right issues in Pakistan were directly linked with poverty, food insecurity, un-sustainability and social unrest.
The size of land and productivity coupled with judicious access and supply of water resources are equally important with the land rights and effective land reforms with judicious land distribution system were considered to be an answer to the prevailing challenges in the country.