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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

Sustainable Livelihoods.

Air Pollution

Air pollution has become major challenge when it comes to citizen’s health. According to World Health Organization (WHO) outdoor (ambient) air pollution causes 4.2 million pre-mature deaths annually whereas 3.8 million deaths are caused due to indoor air pollution. As per estimates 91% people breathe air which exceeds WHO’s permissible limit. South Asians countries are also vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution. Countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and Saudi Arabia face highest death toll due to bad air quality and this mainly include children under age of five years. Air pollution also causes heart stroke, respiratory illness, eye irritation and lungs problem in growing children, women and people of older age. According to New Delhi based surgeon air pollution is causing cancers in young females of less than 40 age.
Smog is also affecting developing countries badly. It is impacting economy, education of students as school and colleges remain close, causes accidents due to visibility issues and impacts air operations (delayed flights)
According to Punjab Smog commission, smog is caused by vehicular emissions (80%), brick kilns (20%) and other sources include industrial emissions
Pakistan is not alone for devastating impacts of bad air quality. Since air pollution is cross boundary issue therefore developing countries should collectively device a plan to tackle this issue together.

  1. Preventing NCD deaths through better air quality. Draft v 3, 11.6.2018, World Health Organization.
  2. Deaths from Air pollution Worldwide. 2018. State of Global Air
  3. Safi M. 2017. ‘Half my lung cancer patients are non-smokers’: toxic air crisis chokes Delhi. The Guardians.
  4. Shabbir M. 2018. Smog: A transboundary issue and its implications in India and Pakistan. Policy brief number 67.

Secure Livelihoods and Research Consortium (SLRC)

Partner: SLRC partners include the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in Sri Lanka, Feinstein International Center (FIC, Tufts University), Focus1000 in Sierra Leone, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction of Wageningen University (WUR) in the Netherlands, the Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR), and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Pakistan

Locale: Swat, Lower Dir

Time Frame: January 2011 – January 2017

Project Team: Dr. Abid Suleri, Dr.Babar shahbaz, Huma Khan, Mohsin Ali


The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium is a six year global research programme exploring livelihoods, basic services and social protection in conflict-affected situations.Funded by the UK Department for International Development, Irish Aid and the European Commission, SLRC was established in 2011 with the aim of strengthening the evidence base and informing policy and practice around livelihoods and services in conflict.


At the center of SLRC?s research are three core themes:

  • State legitimacy: experiences, perceptions and expectations of the state and local governance in conflict-affected situations
  • State capacity: building effective states that deliver services and social protection in conflict-affected situations
  • Livelihood trajectories and economic activity under conflict

Project Status: Ongoing

Technical review of the GoP’s draft Disaster Response Action Plan for cash transfers

Partner: DFID

Year: 2012

Team Members: Dr. Abid Qaiyum suleri


Cash transfers are increasingly being seen as a part of the toolbox for emergency response and early recovery and can be complementary as well as an alternative to in-kind assistance. Cash based responses are a mechanism or tool for providing people with resources in emergencies that can be considered across all sectors. Cash can be particularly appropriate to help support, protect and rebuild livelihoods.

In the wake of recent disasters in Pakistan and considering the importance of cash transfers in rebuilding of livelihoods in disaster-hit areas, SDPI furthered its policy research and undertook the review of the GoP’s draft disaster response action plan in collaboration with the  Humanitarian Outcomes and DFID. Following activities were undertaken as part of the project.

  • Desk review of international best practice in cash-transfer systems for disaster response
  • Consultations and interviews, with the wider GoP disaster response
  • Workshops with both provincial and federal stakeholders engaged in disaster response
  • Review of the GoP’s draft disaster response action plan
  • Re-drafted revised action plan together with GoP and World Bank

Lessons for Pakistan that emerge from international best practice and that were incorporated in this review suggest that providing people with money can be an effective and appropriate response in a wide variety of contexts. The basic criteria for cash transfers to be appropriate are that markets are functioning so that people can buy what they need locally and that cash can be delivered safely. Evaluations have found that it is possible to target and distribute cash safely and people spend money sensibly on basic essentials and rebuilding livelihoods. Cash transfers can provide a stimulus to local economies and have in some contexts been more cost-effective than commodity-based alternatives. Cash transfer also need to be coordinated with long-term GoP social protection and social assistance schemes. Poorer households that qualify and need long-term support may be linked to such programmes.

Impact of October 8 Earthquake on Livelihoods in NWFP & AJK

The aim of this project, solicited by ActionAid-Pakistan, was to evaluate the impact of the October 8 Earthquake on livelihoods of the people living in the afflicted areas of NWFP and AJK. The main focus was to research on how the earthquake affected human, natural, financial, social and physical assets. Primary data was collected and analyzed to best understand how and why the earth quake affected the abovementioned livelihood assets. On the basis of this analysis, policy recommendations to sustainably restore and strengthen the livelihoods of those affected by the earthquake were provided.

Production of Soccer Balls by Nike in Pakistan

Year: 2008


Renowned multinational companies (MNCs) are sometimes not well versed with ground socio economic realities when operating in underdeveloped countries. SDPI carried out research study to determine whether developing societies benefit from “one size fit all” social ethics of MNC’s.

SDPI focused on Nikes production of soccer balls in Pakistan. Pakistan’s soccer ball industry is vibrant. SDPI wanted to find out how far Nike kept up with its Corporate Social Responsibility in Pakistan as manifested in its company documents. The study brought some vital facts to light. The small scale manufacturers supplying to Nike were pioneers in producing good quality soccer balls. However, these manufacturers did not meet minimum wage requirements. Gender discrimination was also prevalent. In 2006, there were allegations on Nike of child labor and unauthorized out-sourcing to home based workers. As a result, Nike withdrew its contract from its main supplier of soccer balls in Pakistan. Ironically, the victim of this act was the most vulnerable part of the society – the rural population, the informal work force, and female workers. This situation raised many questions. It reiterated the established fact that every situation is unique. Economic opportunities and ethical and social responsibilities in one society could be different from another. The affected workforce in this case was left without income generating opportunities. Economic options in an underdeveloped country are limited. This important socio economic fact was also brought to light at the European Social Investment Conference on “Closing the Information Gap” in Germany.

Secure Livelihood Research Consortium (SLRC) sub-project the SLRC Phase II Thematic Research

Donor: DFID 
Locale: Pakistan
Duration: 1st January 2017-31st December 2018
Team Members: Dr. Shehryar Khan Toru,  Dr. Sajid Amin Javed, Maryam Waqar 
The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) is an eight-year global research programme exploring livelihoods, basic services, and social protection in conflict-affected situations. After six years of research in eight countries supported by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), along with Irish Aid and the European Commission (EC), Phase I of the programme is now concluded. Five synthesis reports pulling together the key findings of this phase were published in June 2017, and the SLRC was launched into a new stage of research.
The original SLRC research questions will continue to guide our work, but SLRC Phase II seeks to build on the achievements of phase I and move beyond the findings, both theoretically and methodologically. Phase II includes a new round of competitive funding which was launched in August 2017 and led to the selection of new projects under three research themes, which will be connected to the SLRC panel survey.
  • SDPI has been selected as an SLRC partner under both Theme 1 and Theme 3 for work in Pakistan.
  • Under Theme 1, SDPI will work together with Georgina Sturge (ODI) on a study on Household borrowing as a livelihood strategy in Pakistan. SDPI researchers will work with Georgina as per the full research proposal in Annex A.
  • Under Theme 3, SDPI will lead a study on constructing state legitimacy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. For more details on this work, please see the full research proposal in Annex B. SDPI will lead this project, but work closely with Aoife McCullough (ODI) on the research design, fieldwork, and analysis.
  • Research Design Planning
  • Review of Secondary data for political economy analysis
  • Interrogation of panel survey
  • Update on findings to DFID
  • Feedback on findings from DFID
  • Field Research-primary data collection for political economy analysis
  • Field Research-primary data to identify justification of power rules
  • Consultation with survey team To assess possibility of adding additional Qs
  • Field Research-discourse analysis to identify justification of power rules
  • Analysis of data
  • Draft case study, meeting with team members to discuss findings
  • Production of working paper
  • Feedback from DFID on working paper
  • Dissemination of findings in Pakistan and the UK
Status: Completed

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI)-SLRC Survey Wave 3

Donor: DFID

Locale: Five Union Councils of Pakistan (Charbagh, Baidara, and Bar Aba Khel from district Swat and Haya Serai and Lal Qilla in Lower Dir district of Malakand Division.

Duration: 3rd May 2018-15th December 2018

Team Members: Dr. Shehryar Khan Toru, Dr. Sajid Amin Javed, Dr. Babar Shahbaz, Syed Mohsin Ali Kazmi, Maryam Waqar


The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) is an eight-year global research programme exploring livelihoods, basic services, and social protection in conflict-affected situations. After six years of research in eight countries supported by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), along with Irish Aid and the European Commission (EC), Phase I of the programme is now concluded. The original SLRC research questions will continue to guide our work, but SLRC Phase II includes projects under three themes elaborated on the basis of Phase I findings and also plans for a third round of the longitudinal panel survey. This survey will be conducted in 2018 in Uganda, Pakistan, and Nepal.


The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), as one of SLRC’s main partners, will, as previously, lead on the conduct of the third round of the survey in Pakistan. Although SDPI will hold the ultimate responsibility for the delivery of the panel survey in Pakistan, teams will work closely with colleagues at SLRC/ODI. In order to keep the timing of the panel survey consistent with previous waves, this third round of the survey will begin in Pakistan in August 2018. Specifically, the enumerator training should be held in late July to allow fieldwork to begin around the second week of that same month. Although SDPI will conduct the survey in its entirety and oversee the data entry and initial cleaning, SDPI will not be expected to produce a Pakistan survey report for this round, as such an output is not planned for in the larger design of SLRC Phase II. Rather, survey data will be made available to Theme Leaders, project leads, and partners in the writing up of final outputs at the end of the programme.


  • Obtain any necessary permissions ahead of the start of the fieldwork in August 2018
  • Lead on the hiring, payment, training, and management of enumerators for the survey. As discussed, it is a priority to try and hire back as many enumerators from the first and second round of the SDPI-led survey in Pakistan in order to encourage effective tracking and keep attrition to a minimum.
  • Lead on the survey enumerator training, including rental of the venue for the training, and running of that training (with assistance from SLRC/ODI on training materials and ‘Skype-in’ presence prior to the training/ at the training for one day). SDPI will also plan for an initial survey test/pilot in targeted areas in order to advance the tracking of respondents.
  • Lead on all logistical tasks as they come up during the time of survey implementation
  • SDPI to allocate resources and people to monitoring of survey work – through direct fieldwork supervisions and spot checks on quality of collected data
  • Gather data from respondents, check completed questionnaires for accuracy on a daily basis and correct as necessary. Once this is collected from the paper survey and transferred to a database, work with SLRC/ODI to agree on requirements for cleaning the data and conduct this cleaning on that basis so that data is usable by partners who will need the information for analysis down the line
  • Provide information as necessary to SLRC/ODI once the survey is finished to support the process of appending the third wave of data to previous survey data rounds – a process likely conducted at SLRC/ODI in coordination with SDPI

Status: Completed

Livelihood Futures in Resource-Scarce Areas – and the Quest for the Inclusion of Marginal Groups

Partner: The National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South & Zurich University, Switzerland, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad Pakistan.

Duration: 2009 to 2013

Team Members: Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Dr. Babur Shahbaz

The debates surrounding the complexity, diversity and dynamics of livelihood patterns in marginal areas demonstrate the linkage between scarcity of natural resource and livelihoods insecurity. In resource-poor areas different social groups strive to access and command over these remaining resources, but also on the (often few) enabling (alternative – e.g. non natural resource – based) opportunities to secure their livelihoods. In this struggle some social groups take benefit while some cannot, and consequently conflicts, social tensions and new exclusions might emerge. This research project is being undertaken in marginal regions of Pakistan.


  • To examine the livelihood patterns, state of food security and natural resources in the study regions.
  • To identify and examine livelihood alternative options, support structures and access of people to these options.
  • To look into the future; linking this research with the climate-change scenarios and debates.


  • Analysis and comparison of results from first phase of research and writing-up of papers for peer reviewed journals have been completed. A journal, and a book have been published.
  • Household surveys were conducted in Battagram and Mansehra districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province
  • Two students have completed their M.Sc (Hons.) degree; while two M.Sc (Hons.) and one PhD studies are under progress.
  • Workshop/meeting of involved researchers was held in Tanzania.
  • Publications of a report on the field finding.

The research conducted in North-Western mountainous region of Pakistan indicate that hike in prices of food items was one of the most serious threats to the food security of local residents. The expenditure on food is the largest chunk of the household budget. The leading coping strategies included eating cheap/less nutritious food, less expenditures on education & health, cut the size of food, borrowing money/food. Lack of irrigation water, limited market access, climate extremes and high cost of fertilizers were the major production related constraints for small farmers in the study area. As a resort to these constraints and due to low output from the food crops, a shift from subsistence to cash-oriented crops (vegetables) was observed. Though different types SSNs – formal as well as informal – are available in the food insecure areas of Northwest Pakistan, access to most of the SSNs depends on political and/or social capital.

Coordinators: Dr. Ulrike Mueller-Boeker (Zurich University, Switzerland) & Dr. Sagar R. Sharma (Kathmandu University, Nepal)

Exploring the Potential of Local Resource Mobilization in Chakwal

Partner: Plan International

Year: 2010

Locale: Chakwal

Team Members: Gulbaz Ali Khan

Most of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Pakistan are heavily dependent on foreign funding and little effort is taken by these organizations to tap the hidden domestic resources available in the country. Limited foreign funding and heavy dependence on it leads to the need for domestic resource mobilization. Evidence has shown that domestic funding sources cane be tapped into by local organizations for their programmes. Resources are provided in the shape of Zakat (obligation) and Saddaqat (provisional) to trusts, foundations and CSOs. This immense potential exists in the country, which may be explored by local organizations for funding their resources.

SDPI was supported by PLAN International to provide baseline information on the available resources in the district Chakwal, to find out the potential for local resource mobilization.

The SDPI team collected more than ten case studies from potential sources and found that the corporate sector, the business community, individual philanthropists and trusts have potential which may be tapped into by local organizations. Networking is a key to success which requires immediate attention of all the stakeholders. There is a need to develop a network of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the district, which would ensure participation of the all the national and local level organizations. It would also serve as a platform for raising collective voices and sharing knowledge. It will also help the CSOs and Plan Pakistan to focus on these areas for future local level interventions in the district.

During the visits and discussion sessions with different stakeholders, it was revealed that an advocacy campaign must be initiated in the district to create pressure groups in the district to influence key policy makers at the local and provincial level. In a consultative meeting with Plan partners, it has been decided to develop a dedicated “Advocacy Unit” for reaching and influencing policy makers. SDPI will provide technical support to the interested organizations in developing the units and will train the staff with financial help from Plan Pakistan.

For More Information, please email on the following address:

Livelihood Restoration of Flood Affected People of Thatta, Sindh

Partner: Hansalim, Badin Development and Research Organization (BDRO)

Year: 2011

Locale: Sindh

Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

The flood that struck Sindh province last year destroyed crops, food, fodder, seed stock and livestock. The main objectives of the project were, to empower flood victims largely women and girls to realize their economic and social rights, by providing them goats and sheep, to assist them to reintegrate into society and live a life with dignity, to raise community awareness and address issues of resettlement of flood victims through a participatory approach and to reduce vulnerability of men, women and children to the physical, social, economic and political effects of flooding and other natural disasters in the project area, Thatta district of Sindh. The project activities were carried out in collaboration with the local CBO, Badin Development and Research Organization (BDRO), with financial support from Hansalim, Republic of Korea. Six events for the distribution of 200 goats and sheep were organized at the identified central six villages of the union councils, Gul Mohammad Baran and Kar Malik, Taluka Jati a veterinary doctor paid regular visits in the project area to check how the animals were being taken care of 100 families, mostly widows benefited, for whom the support is an on-going source of income for their families.