Published Date: Dec 11, 2015
Development from ground up
No conversation on sustainable development can be had without first tackling the issue of inequality, but the divide between the rich and the poor continues to increase. The trickle-down effect has failed and over half the population sits below the poverty line. Its time to look at a bottom-up approach to development.
A protege of the legendary Akhtar Hameed Khan, Dr Shoaib Sultan Khan emphasized the need for social mobilization – the "bottom-up" approach – at the SDPIs mega conference in Islamabad. His Rural Support Programmes Network is working at local level to empower marginalized communities.
The idea so goes that the pillars of the state are not enough to address poverty because poverty occurs at the household level. Thus to achieve sustainable development, a socio-economic pillar besides administration and politics is necessary. Gilgit-Baltistan is a remarkable example of social mobilization and how a community can come together to develop itself from the ground up. However, some might say this was a unique case because of its land distribution.
Renowned economist and economic adviser to Balochistan, Dr. Kaiser Bengali said that community development can only prevail where land distribution is equitable. The sad reality is that in Pakistan, inequality of land distribution is almost like the inequality of income distribution! Dr. Bengali stressed that feudalism and absentee farming need to be uprooted from this country, and the wealth tax should be reintroduced.
As for the role of the state, Pakistan is seriously lacking in capacity. Whatever little resources the country does spend on development, there is no monitoring mechanism, nor is there any mechanism for allocation, which is at the whims of the CMs. Mr. Shakeel Ahmad from UNDP said that spending in each province should be based on HDI or MPI indicators, so that each province can get a more equitable spending.