Road to poverty al­le­vi­a­tion

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The Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank’s Poverty Re­duc­tion Strat­egy de­scribes poverty as a de­pri­va­tion of es­sen­tial as­sets and op­por­tu­ni­ties to which ev­ery hu­man be­ing is en­ti­tled. In or­der to over­come this de­pri­va­tion, Pak­istan signed the dec­la­ra­tion of the Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals (MDGS) in 2000 along with other 187 United Na­tion mem­bers. The doc­u­ment sig­ni­fies a uni­fied vi­sion of de­vel­op­ment of the world com­mu­nity through eight time-bound and bench­marked goals, where the over­ar­ch­ing tar­get of the eight mil­len­nium de­vel­op­ment goals was to re­duce poverty by half by the end of the tar­geted pe­riod of 15 years. In gen­eral, it took Pak­istan more than the an­tic­i­pated time to trans­late the gen­er­al­ized de­vel­op­ment goals.

Poverty, in par­tic­u­lar is grow­ing in the Pak­istani so­ci­ety. Un­for­tu­nately, the poor in Pak­istan are fac­ing three ma­jor ad­ver­si­ties at the same time: a mas­sive earthquake in 2005 fol­lowed by mas­sive floods in 2010 and 2011, the con­tin­u­ing war on ter­ror since 2001 and the volatil­ity in food and en­ergy prices which have fur­ther raised the poverty in­dex.

Im­por­tantly, ex­perts point to the role of the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion of Pak­istan, the frame­work of which con­veys a mes­sage not di­rectly deal­ing with poverty but rather fo­cused on re­viv­ing growth which may sup­pos­edly take care of other is­sues.

Thus, economists are of the view that as 2015 ap­proaches, Pak­istan will drift fur­ther away from the poverty re­duc­tion goals as the sub­ject does not seem to be on the agenda of the coun­try’s eco­nomic team.

To unify the growth and poverty agenda, the Hu­man De­vel­op­ment in South Asia Re­port for 2010-11 rec­om­mends a pro- poor growth strat­egy. The re­port sug­gests a five- point strat­egy to em­pha­size that the poor should be part of the growth process and poli­cies. The el­e­ments of the strat­egy in­clude pro­mot­ing non- farm em­ploy­ment by in­creas­ing pub­lic and pri­vate in­vest­ment in phys­i­cal and so­cial in­fra­struc­ture like build­ing roads, ed­u­ca­tion and health fa­cil­i­ties. Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of liveli­hood in ru­ral econ­omy through farm and non- farm em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties is ex­tremely vi­tal to en­sure their food se­cu­rity.

The sec­ond strat­egy is to en­hance hu­man de­vel­op­ment through im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion and health fa­cil­i­ties. The third point is the eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of land and pro­vi­sion of state land to poor land­less farm­ers. The fourth point says that ex­tend­ing agri­cul­ture credit and fi­nance to small farm­ers must be en­sured while the fifth strat­egy is com­mu­ni­cat­ing farm re­search re­sults to poor farm­ers for ef­fi­cient land use.

In this con­text, the role of ADB is greatly sig­nif­i­cant for Pak­istan. The Bank’s sup­port builds on the cor­ner­stones of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s strat­egy: sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth, in­clu­sive so­cial de­liv­ery, and pro-poor gov­er­nance. The poverty as­sess­ment by ADB shows that sus­tained eco­nomic growth is crit­i­cal for poverty re­duc­tion, and there are strong link­ages be­tween pro-poor growth on the one hand, and hu­man de­vel­op­ment, good gov­er­nance, and cross-cut­ting con­cerns such as pri­vate sec­tor de­vel­op­ment and re­gional co­op­er­a­tion on the other. In this re­gard, un­der its pro-poor eco­nomic growth strat­egy, ADB fo­cuses its in­ter­ven­tions in the fol­low­ing key ar­eas of struc­tural re­forms, ru­ral de­vel­op­ment, em­ploy­ment gen­er­a­tion, and the cross-cut­ting is­sues of sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment and al­le­vi­at­ing in­fra­struc­ture con­straints.

ADB also high­lights the im­por­tance of Pak­istan’s strate­gic lo­ca­tion and com­ple­men­tar­ity in re­sources and mar­kets to its neigh­bours, Pak­istan has sub­stan­tial po­ten­tial to gain from sub-re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. ADB works with the govern­ment to de­velop re­gional trans­porta­tion net­works and in­fra­struc­ture for re­gional gas trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tems.

Over­all, a pro-poor cam­paign can only be led by close work­ing of govern­ment, the pri­vate sec­tor and civil so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions to bring about struc­tural changes in Pak­istan’s econ­omy and pave the way for sus­tain­able, long-term de­vel­op­ment. In the near-term, ADB looks for­ward to work­ing on pro­grams that im­prove gov­er­nance, en­hance eco­nomic growth and re­duce poverty. The road ahead re­mains chal­leng­ing, but suc­cess re­quires that the Govern­ment stays on the course of re­forms and ADB sup­ports the Govern­ment in this en­deavor by con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide as­sis­tance for im­ple­men­ta­tion of Pak­istan’s poverty re­duc­tion strat­egy

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