Poverty and so­cial safety nets link­ages

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Rashid A Mughal Email:mughal_rashid@hot­mail.com

ONE of the daunt­ing task for the coun­tries in Asia and Af rica is the re­duc­tion of poverty, which in spite of all the ef­forts of af­fected and vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries, con­tin­ues to af­fect ma­jor por­tion of their pop­u­la­tion. In Pak­istan, though the of­fi­cial data re­leased in­di­cates the Poverty level has gone down, but the same is be­ing chal­lenged by in­de­pen­dent re­searchers and NGO. In Thar (Sindh) the peo­ple are dy­ing due to poverty and lack of ba­sic hu­man ne­ces­si­ties, like health care, clean wa­ter, food and power be­sides education fa­cil­i­ties.

Al­though sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments have been made on many of the MDG tar­gets world­wide, progress has been un­even across re­gions and coun­tries, leav­ing sig­nif­i­cant gaps. Mil­lions of peo­ple are be­ing left be­hind, es­pe­cially the poor­est and those dis­ad­van­taged be­cause of their sex, age, dis­abil­ity, eth­nic­ity or ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion. Tar­geted ef­forts will be needed to reach the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple. De­spite enor­mous progress, even to­day, about 800m peo­ple still live in ex­treme poverty and suf­fer from hunger. Over 160m chil­dren un­der age five have in­ad­e­quate height for their age due to in­suf­fi­cient food. Cur­rently, 57 mil­lion chil­dren of pri­mary school age are not in school.

Al­most half of global work­ers are still work­ing in vul­ner­a­ble con­di­tions, rarely en­joy­ing the ben­e­fits as­so­ci­ated with de­cent work. About 16,000 chil­dren die each day be­fore cel­e­brat­ing their fifth birth­day, mostly from pre­ventable causes. The ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity ra­tio in the de­vel­op­ing re­gions is 14 times higher than in the de­vel­oped re­gions. Just half of preg­nant women in the de­vel­op­ing re­gions re­ceive the rec­om­mended min­i­mum of four an­te­na­tal care vis­its. Only an es­ti­mated 36 per cent of the 31.5 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing with HIV in the de­vel­op­ing re­gions were re­ceiv­ing ART in 2013. In 2015, one in three peo­ple (2.4 bil­lion) still use in­ad­e­quate and un­hy­gienic san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing 946 mil­lion peo­ple who still prac­tise open defe­ca­tion. To­day over 880 mil­lion peo­ple are es­ti­mated to be liv­ing in slum-like con­di­tions in the de­vel­op­ing world’s cities.

In the de­vel­op­ing re­gions, chil­dren from the poor­est 20 per cent of house­holds are more than twice as likely to be stunted as those from the wealth­i­est 20 per cent. Chil­dren in the poor­est house­holds are four times as likely to be out of school as those in the rich­est house­holds. Un­der-five mor­tal­ity rates are al­most twice as high for chil­dren in the poor­est house­holds as for chil­dren in the rich­est. In ru­ral ar­eas, only 56 per cent of births are at­tended by skilled health per­son­nel, com­pared with 87 per cent in ur­ban ar­eas. About 16 per cent of the ru­ral pop­u­la­tion do not use im­proved drink­ing wa­ter sources, com­pared to 4 per cent of the ur­ban pop­u­la­tion. About 50 per cent of peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas lack im­proved san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties, com­pared to only 18 per cent of peo­ple in ur­ban ar­eas.

Women re­main at a dis­ad­van­tage in the labour mar­ket. Glob­ally, about three quar­ters of work­ing-age men par­tic­i­pate in the labour force, com­pared to only half of work­ing-age women. Women earn 24 per cent less than men glob­ally. In 85 per cent of the 92 coun­tries with data on un­em­ploy­ment rates by level of education for the years 2012–2013, women with ad­vanced education have higher rates of un­em­ploy­ment than men with sim­i­lar lev­els of education. De­spite con­tin­u­ous progress, to­day the world still has far to go to­wards equal gen­der rep­re­sen­ta­tion in pri­vate and public de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Large data gaps re­main in sev­eral de­vel­op­ment ar­eas. Poor data qual­ity, lack of timely data and un­avail­abil­ity of dis­ag­gre­gated data on im­por­tant di­men­sions are among the ma­jor chal­lenges. As a re­sult, many na­tional and local gov­ern­ments con­tinue to rely on out­dated data or data of in­suf­fi­cient qual­ity to make plan­ning and de­ci­sions. A World Bank study shows that about half of the 155 coun­tries lack ad­e­quate data to mon­i­tor poverty and, as a re­sult, the poor­est peo­ple in these coun­tries of­ten re­main in­vis­i­ble. Dur­ing the 10-year pe­riod be­tween 2002 and 2011, as many as 57 coun­tries had none or only one poverty rate es­ti­mate. In sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, where poverty is most se­vere, 61 per cent of coun­tries have no ad­e­quate data to mon­i­tor poverty trends. In to­day’s rapidly chang­ing world, real-time in­for­ma­tion is needed to pre­pare and re­spond to eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal, nat­u­ral and health crises. How­ever, most de­vel­op­ment data have a time lag of two to three years. Re­cent in­no­va­tions are help­ing to cir­cum­vent this prob­lem.

Know­ing where peo­ple and things are and their re­la­tion­ship to each other is es­sen­tial for in­formed de­ci­sion-mak­ing. Com­pre­hen­sive lo­ca­tion-based in­for­ma­tion is help­ing Gov­ern­ments to de­velop strate­gic pri­or­i­ties, make de­ci­sions and mea­sure and mon­i­tor out­comes. Once the geospa­tial data are cre­ated, they can be used many times to sup­port a mul­ti­plic­ity of ap­pli­ca­tions. A ge­o­detic ref­er­ence frame al­lows pre­cise ob­ser­va­tions and ‘po­si­tion­ing’ of any­thing on the Earth and can be used for many so­cial, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal pur­poses, such as pre­ci­sion agri­cul­ture and mon­i­tor­ing changes in sea level rise.

Pak­istan, which has been gov­erned by civil and mil­i­tary regimes, since its in­de­pen­dence (1949), could not de­velop a good po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. Af­ter its in­de­pen­dence, the coun­try saw an un­sta­ble demo­cratic regime (1947–1958), with fre­quent gov­ern­men­tal changes. Dur­ing the first mil­i­tary regime (1958–1969), the high GDP growth, and for­eign aid, only ben­e­fited the élite in­dus­trial so­ci­ety. Dur­ing the demo­cratic pe­riod (1972– 1977), the govern­ment’s mea­sures, in­clud­ing the na­tion­al­i­sa­tion poli­cies and re­stric­tions on in­dus­tri­al­ists, cre­ated a con­sid­er­able uncertainty, re­sult­ing in a fall in pri­vate in­vest­ment and flight of cap­i­tal. Dur­ing the se­cond mil­i­tary regime (1977–1988), again, the growth rate re­mained high, due to for­eign aid and re­mit­tances, which fu­elled the pri­vate and public con­sump­tion ex­pen­di­tures. Again the coun­try saw a demo­cratic era dur­ing the 1988–1999 pe­riod, with fre­quent changes in govern­ment, de­te­ri­o­rat­ing law and or­der con­di­tions and a poor eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion. The mil­i­tary take-over, in 1999 con­tin­ued till 2008.

Eco­nomic growth re­mained high dur­ing the 2003–2006 pe­riod dur­ing which the ex­ter­nal fac­tors played a ma­jor role in shap­ing the eco­nomic land­scape of Pak­istan. In ad­di­tion to po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, Pak­istan has faced poor gov­er­nance, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, con­flicts and ter­ror­ism. These are se­ri­ous im­ped­i­ments in the way of growth and poverty-re­duc­tion ef­forts. It is hoped the rulers will prac­ti­cally demon­strate their de­ter­mi­na­tion to tackle this hy­dra-headed issue, fac­ing the coun­try. — The writer is For­mer Con­sul­tant, In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion and In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion, Di­rec­tor (Emi­gra­tion), Pro­tec­tor of Emi­grants.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.