War on Poverty

Continued impoverishment of a large section of the population
in Pakistan suggests that Millennium Development Goals for
elimination of poverty must be pursued in right earnest.

By Quratulain Hafeez | June 2020

One of the most important challenges to Pakistan is poverty. There is a consistent increase in the rate of poverty, inequalities in the distribution of income, non-availability of basic needs and facilities, a high unemployment rate and increase in the inflation curve.

These challenges are directly proportional to economic status of the country. According to an estimate, 24.3 percent of the country’s population is living below the poverty line. This percentage has further increased after COVID-19 appeared. The study revealed that a large portion of the population living below the poverty line belongs to the rural areas. This applies to all parts of the country - Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab, KPK, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Despite Pakistan’s priority for contributing to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and significant improvement in the overall poverty rate, 64% in 2001 to 24% in 2015, the country is still unable to bridge the developmental difference between the urban and rural areas.

To get rid of the chain of poverty, the Pakistan parliament accepted the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a part of its national policy. The SDG secretariat continues to conform to its commitment of SDGs 2030. Furthermore, the SDGs Monitoring and Coordination Unit is working as a national entity in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in all provinces of the country.

A similar effort estimated the Household Income and Expenditure Surveys (HIES) by using the Cost of Basic Needs (CBN) methodology. As per this study, over the years there has been significant decline in poverty in Pakistan - 1.7% - 4.5% of GDP achieved in 2008-2015 . It has not reached the required level of US$1.25 per person per day and COVID-19 will certainly not improve matters. In 2005-6 poverty was 50.4% of the population which reduced to 24.3% in 2015-2016.

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