Published Date: Sep 28, 2012
HIDING FROM POVERTY
Say poverty, and everyone is ready to talk about this daunting challenge. Pick up global reports and you see Pakistan amongst the weak, hungry and distressed. On the Human Development Index, Pakistan lies within the low human development category, positioning at 145 out of 187 countries in 2011.
Based on the latest Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), a component in HDI ranking methodology, 49.4 percent of the population in Pakistan suffers from multiple deprivations including health, education and standard of living while another 11 percent are vulnerable to the same.
For a country which has one-third of its population living below the poverty line, it is obnoxiously bizarre to have poverty eradication somewhere down the priority list. There is no denying that the poverty reduction initiatives have not been the preference of policy makers. Recently, the hubbub in the media about the sporadic and neglected depiction of poverty incidence in the country erupted when the latest study Social Development Policy Institute took everyone by surprise.
The research report by SDPI should be a real eye opener for those at the helm of the issue. According to the study, 33 percent of the households in Pakistan are living in extreme poverty with Balochistan being the poorest province followed by Sindh, KPK and Punjab in descending order.
Regardless of the leadership, a social advocacy think-tank believes the poverty issue has never taken primacy in the country: For as long as one can remember, no solid poverty reduction initiatives have surfaced.
Public sector spending on safety nets has never jacked up. Education and health sector spending is in vain with major cuts in development funds during deficit financing. Natural calamities have had their share of destruction to the subdued gains, if any.
Ironically, planning and investment locally in this regard has been dismal; portrayal of the situation has long been on tenterhooks, while the efforts of the NGOs and international donors remain somehow restricted to the extent of data and statistics.
With this pace, Pakistan is sure to lag far behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. And as gauged by the countrys progress, the targeted rate of 13 percent by 2015 is blatantly unachievable. The real McCoy is investment in human development and intentional measures, certainly lacking as of right now.