HUMAN DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES IN BALOCHISTAN
Nov 12 - 18, 2012
Balochistan is rich in natural resources. These resources however will have no impact on development if it is not matched with human resources that can tap this natural endowment. It is the country's largest province, with nearly 44% of its surface area and a thinly dispersed population of around 7.5 million. The social indicators are also appalling in the province with illiteracy nearly at 60%, a small scattered population in large area, low primary school enrollment ratio and insufficient facilities for healthcare. There is a dire need to focus on improvement and formation of human capital for Balochistan to tap internal and external markets, and capitalize on market-driven economic growth. Governance reforms in the province need to be implemented and the institutions in the social sector be strengthened to improve the effectiveness of public and private social service delivery.
The key areas need to focused for human development in Balochistan include a rational and long-term planning, on-job training programs, technical education according to the needs of 21st century, secondary level education for development of critical skills, allocation of significant resources, setting up of technology institutes in various districts, the recruitment of qualified teachers, instructors and trainers, access to the high-tech computing services, information technology, scientific management related education and value adding knowledge. Human development provides a wide range of choices and opportunities to the people for employment, nutrition, education and health care.
Human development depends on development in health and education sectors. The concept of good governance and a strong civil society remains vague without a population with a basic level of education. A Chinese proverb says, "If you plan for a year, plant a seed. If for ten years, plant a tree. If for a hundred years, teach the people. When you sow a seed once, you will reap a single harvest. When you teach the people, you will reap a hundred harvests."
Serious efforts and consistent policies are needed to beat back the prevailing educational backwardness in Balochistan. Undoubtedly, an effective and sustained educational reform hinges on a combination of policy and institutional changes. Equally important is to invest the right amounts for the appropriate types of education.
The illiteracy is higher in Balochistan, and hence the people lack the initiative and entrepreneurial ability. The province has no skilled and trained labor to utilize its natural resources. Resultantly, its resource potential remained untapped and the province has been caught up in underdevelopment trap. Education actually distinguishes the poor from the non-poor. For example, the proportion of literate household heads in poor households is almost half that of non-poor households. Poor households on average have 75% more children than the non-poor households. Most of these children are not receiving any education, and thus the cycle of poverty is perpetuated. There is a strong correlation between household income and school enrollment.
Poor education reduces the productivity of investments and weakens governance. Performance improvement in the educational arena can yield great potential returns in terms of development in the province. With low participation in general education and low completion rates at primary and secondary levels, the unemployment and underemployment rates in the province are higher than the national rates. Job vacancies are often unfilled due to lack of trained personnel.
The province has a poor record in educating girls. Only about one-third of girls, who should be in primary school, are enrolled in the province. Balochistan's gross primary school enrollment rates show a significant disparity between male and female enrollment. Overall education levels cannot be improved without making a significant advance in the education of girls in the province. The social divide in enrollment along gender lines should be eliminated in the province.
The health indicators in Balochistan like infant and mother mortality, are poorer than any other province. Major causes of water-related diseases include lack of water supply and sanitation facilities, absence of proper sewerage disposal, waste mismanagement and contaminated water. These diseases can be prevented by facilitating the population with proper sewerage and sanitation disposal systems.
A healthy population can work better for the economic progress of the province fully utilizing its capabilities and skills. For obtaining this health capital in the province, there is a high need to resolve basic and pressing issues related to the health sector. In rural areas, the health status is relatively poor. Lack or absence of female health staff including female doctors in rural areas worsens the situation. According to an estimate, there is only one doctor available for 7300 persons in average.
Poverty in the province is a consequence of several factors, including geography and low human capital. Many of these factors increase the cost of providing social services in Balochistan. The interplay of geographic, cultural, ethnic, historical, political, and other factors in Balochistan poses governance and institutional challenges with major implications for the quality of social service delivery. The ratio of cost of providing public services in least populous and area-wise largest Balochistan is about three times higher than that in other provinces.
Human development indicators in the province are the weakest among the four provinces and improvements will need concerted efforts over the long term. Need is to localize the planning and management of social services in Balochistan. The centralized planning and management of social services has made public social services less effective and more inaccessible to the poor living in remote areas of the province. This centralization has created undisciplined, unionized, and absentee government providers; a lack of focus on clients' needs; central bureaucracies overwhelmed by transfers and service litigation; and communities indifferent to social service delivery.
The province lacks the skilled and trained labor to utilize its natural resources. Resultantly, its resource potential remained untapped and the province has been caught up in underdevelopment trap. The government should work out a roadmap for development of human resources in the province. The province is yet to make significant attainments in the human development index (HDI), which focuses on measurable dimensions of human development such as living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. Thus, HDI combines measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy, and income.