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Pakistan’S Poverty Counts Descending

According to the recent Economic Survey, Pakistan’s total number of poverty count has registered a prominent decline in last 10 years at both the regional and national levels. The fall in poverty shows more eminence in urban areas than rural areas, reported in the Economic Survey 2018.

Poverty headcount has shown a fall of 5.7 percentage points in urban areas and 4.9 percentage points in rural areas during the period 2014-2016. According to the Economic Survey 2018, Pakistan has posted a remarkable fall in poverty incidence since the year 2007-08.

Some of the major reasons which contributed to this fall in poverty headcount since 2005-06 were poverty alleviation reduction programs like Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), which has improved political situation, peace and tranquility whereas strong recovery from low GDP growth rate of 1.7 percent in 2008-09 to 4.5 percent in 2015-16 also supported. Also continued higher inflows of remittances especially from Middle East which are intended to relatively poor families were responsible for economic growth.

Largest percentage fall in poverty headcount was witnessed in the year 2013-14 when national poverty headcount decreased by 6.8 percentage points with 6.2 percentage points fall in urban and 7.5 percent in rural areas.

PPAF And UNHCR Launched Livelihood To Refugees

Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched a pilot program to help provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to both Pakistani nationals and the Afghan refugees. The program targets the families living in extreme poverty on less than USD 1.25 a day and having no access to basic services.

The 18-month project worth USD1.2 million will benefit 2,000 households.

Approximately 70 percent of the people will be Afghan refugees and 30 percent Pakistani host communities in Khyber Pakhtukhwa’s Swabi and Balochistan’s Pishin.

The poverty graduation project focuses on vocational training skills development, enterprise development and agriculture initiatives.

The trainees will be given toolkits to start an economic activity and will be assisted to create their own business plans.

Pakistan continues to host 1.4 million Afghan refugees. In recognition of the support provided by the government and people of Pakistan for nearly forty years UNHCR’s budget to support refugees in the country has increased in each of the past four years. The budget approved by UNHCR’s Executive Committee for Pakistan to support Afghan refugees in 2018 is USD 57,725,000. In 2015, this budget stood at USD 44,568,000.

UNHCR also implements the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programme to support Afghan refugees and their host communities.

Since its launch in 2009, the RAHA programme has provided assistance to over 10.6 million people through 4,100 projects worth USD200 million in Pakistan in the sectors of education, health, livelihood, water, sanitation, infrastructure and social protection.

According to the latest available official statistics, almost 30 percent of Pakistanis were living below poverty line of Rs3, 030 per adult per month in 2013. This is roughly 59 million in absolute terms. The poverty line used by the government is totally ridiculous.

A more reasonable poverty line can be the international poverty line of $2 per day.

Another type of poverty rate called multidimensional poverty rate is also being calculated in Pakistan, which relies on non-income indicators.

Pakistan has received millions of dollars in the name of poverty reduction. Varieties of economic policies are framed by the government under the pretext of poverty reduction.

Despite the fact that Pakistan has received a lot of money for fighting poverty from donor institutions but unfortunately it has not seen substantial reduction in poverty levels.

This is particularly not true when comparison is made with India and China. Both of these economies have experienced sharp fall in their poverty levels. Pakistan’s progress in this area has been very slow.

UN And PPAF Launched Pilot Program

The UN refugee agency and the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund PPAF launched a pilot program on to help support the poorest Afghan refugees.

The poverty graduation program aims to support families living in extreme poverty, with household income of under $1.25 (SR 4.69) a day, who are without access to basic services.

“This approach brings innovative and market-based methods together to help people become independent by providing them with sustainable livelihood opportunities,” the UNCR said in statement.

Seventy percent of the people will be Afghan refugees and 30 percent Pakistani host communities in Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pishin, Balochistan.

The poverty graduation project focuses on vocational training skills development, enterprise development and agriculture initiatives.

The trainees will be given toolkits to start an economic activity and will be assisted to create their own business plans.

Projects will focus on skills and enterprise development and assist refugees to seek employment in Pakistan and to help provide sustainable reintegration for those who decide to return to Afghanistan.

Pakistan continues to host 1.4 million Afghan refugees. In recognition of the support provided by the government and people of Pakistan for nearly four decades, UNHCR’s budget to support refugees in the country has increased in each of the past four years.

Pakistani officials say that government policy of on Afghan refugees is focused “the dignified return of our Afghan brothers to their homeland.”

Pakistan extended the stay of registered Afghan refugees until June 30. Pakistan also urged donor countries and aid agencies to support resettlement of returnees by building houses and initiating livelihood projects in Afghanistan.

China has set a target of ten million more people to be taken out of poverty in 2018. China has achieved the best results against poverty.

According to government figures by the end of 2012, the country had ninety-nine million people living in poverty, and the number was reduced to more than thirty million at the end of 2017.

China has more than sixty-eight million people taken out of poverty over the last five years.

Infrastructure and public services in poverty-stricken areas have significantly improved through massive investment.

Despite progress achieved in poverty alleviation, there are still 30 million people living in poverty.

Well Thought Out Urbanization An Answer To Poverty Alleviation

This was revealed in headcount poverty ranking of all districts for the year 2014-15 published in the report by Punjab Economic Research Institute. The report is basically about the economic status of Punjab and poverty prevailing in the province.

Rajanpur is the poorest district in Punjab with a poverty prevalence of 52.3 percent. On the national level it ranks 23rd. The first twenty three poorest districts are from Balochistan. In 2007-08, the poverty level in Dera Bugti, Balochistan, was 72.6 percent that reduced to 68.58 percent in 2014-15.

Poverty in Tharparkar, Sindh, was only 48 percent in 2007-08, but it increased to 77.03 percent. Rajanpur is the only district in Punjab with a poverty level of above 50 percent.

The poverty level in Punjab’s DG Khan, Muzzafargarh, and Rahim Yar Khan Districts is between 40-50 percent.

Next in Punjab poverty ranking are Bahawalpur, Bhalwalnagar, Jhang, and Lodhran with a poverty level of 34.77, 33.22, 31.10 and 30.11 percent respectively.

All located in South Punjab. The picture improves in the central Punjab. Twelve of the 13 districts with a single digit poverty level are in Punjab, all from central part of the province.

  • Karachi is the only district in Sindh where poverty is in single digit.
  • No district from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan has a single-digit poverty level.
  • Punjab is the most urbanized province in Pakistan and therefore more affluent.
  • Other provinces would have to encourage urbanization to reduce poverty.

Prominent economist Dr Hafeez Pasha has advised the Punjab government to concentrate more on the development of 10 Punjab cities more than the attention they are giving to Lahore. Lahore has grown so rapidly that the city is becoming unmanageable. This advice seems more relevant for Karachi.

The next best poverty profile of a Sindh district is of Dadu where poverty level is 13.81 percent. This is 12 percent higher than 1.30 percent in Karachi. There is not much difference in poverty in many cities of Punjab compared to Lahore.

Against a level of 2.24 percent in Lahore, poverty is lower in Jhelum, 1.84 percent, and Islamabad, 1.73 percent.

Gujarat has a poverty level of 2.72 percent and Rawalpindi 2.93 percent. Abbotabad in Khyber Pakthunkhwa has the lowest poverty level of 6.96 percent. It is followed by Nowshera with a poverty incidence of 14.75 percent. Peshawar with 18.75 percent poverty is ranked third in its respective province.

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