COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY

MUHAMMAD AMIN
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

May 30 - June 5, 2011

In present scenario, owing to a multi-faceted socioeconomic crisis, the unemployment is expected to increase at an alarming rate of 15 to 20 percent in the forthcoming years. This phenomenon may add into the pre-existing hydra-headed problems such as political and socioeconomic instability.

The key factors responsible for the deterioration of the economy and resultantly high unemployment are energy crises, terrorisms, lack of investment, high population growth rate, lack of skilled labor force, water shortage, in addition to, the lack of promising policies.

The country is currently confronted with a chronic energy crisis. Energy crisis has imperiled the industrial production of the country. Since the last few decades, the energy demand in industrial and domestic sectors has increased manifolds; however, the concerned domains have not yet taken the sound measures to address this dilemma.

The energy crisis has collapsed the industrial sector, which is the key provider of the employments to the masses from urban and rural areas. Additionally, the prices of electricity and petroleum are steadily increasing putting a major and visible dent on the industrial and domestic sectors. There exist a huge potential in Pakistan to exploit and utilize the energy resources such as coal, wind and water resources. For accomplishing this task, there is a dire need to develop national consensus over the construction of dams for electricity production and for other uses (e.g., agriculture, industry, and domestic sectors).

Fortunately, there exists bright opportunities in terms of energy generation from the water resources in the country, however, unfortunately this aspect of energy production has been the victim of our so-called feudal and noble politics, which always use ethnicity and provincial cards.

To overcome energy crises, the government should ensure the construction of more water reservoirs and power plants through the help of countries such as Turkey, China, and Germany etc. The utilization of these partially unexploited resources (e.g., coal, wind, and water resources) can be helpful in revitalizing economic growth. Developing and utilizing energy resources could streamline our industrial and domestic sectors, which may play a significant role in strengthening our economy and increasing job potential in the energy-starved sectors.

Similarly, terrorism has also destroyed the economy of the country. Since the launching of so-called war on terrorisms, the country economy has suffered more than $60 billion. Such huge losses on economy and thus, decreasing investment in developmental projects, has not only adversely affected the performance of several departments but also limited their job potential. Because of security concerns, many foreign and local investors have shifted their capital from the country, while fueling the pre-existing economic crisis.

Lack of direct investment and consequently shift in capital to other countries caused by terrorisms, has left no stone unturned to ruin the infrastructure of the county. That is why, the job market for the poor masses is rapidly shrinking and pushing them to below poverty line. Moreover, due to unemployment, the terrorism gets advantage in some underdeveloped tribal areas, where unemployment is also

inducing people to join anti-Pakistan activities (terrorisms). The better provision and security to investors may win their confidence to invest in different sectors. However, legitimate efforts are also required to upgrade under-developed tribal areas to fight unemployment and terrorisms. This may not only increase the job opportunities but also reverse and stop the awful situation of terrorisms in the country.

The third major problem responsible for growing unemployment is rapidly increasing population of the country. Since the last few decades, boost in population has also shaken the very fabrics of the society. The lack of social security, health and education facilities, and lowered literary rates are the factors, which ultimately lead to handicapped consumption of masses in different sectors. Further, lack of skilled manpower is not only a major obstacle in human resource management but also in the up gradation and development of potential job sectors.

Environmental pollution and water shortage in agriculture sector may increase the magnitude of this dilemma in the forthcoming years. A continues theft of Pakistani waters by India may not only destroy our agricultural sector but also indirectly leads to an ultimate collapse of industrial sectors, which are dependent on agricultural sector for their raw materials. The government should raise this issue with India and diplomatic efforts should be launched to force India to comply with Indus Water Treaty.

Similarly, the poverty itself is a major factor in enhancing unemployment. Our majority of population is suffering from poverty and living around or below poverty line. Further, the poor population is not facilitated with daily used basic needs including health and education facilities. Owing to poverty, the living standard is much poor, people have no access to clean water, medical care and education facilities. The concrete efforts are highly needed for poverty elimination.

At each union council level, there is need to make a group of people, who check where the people are poor and what kind of the problems they are facing. Then, they should also find the volunteers from the society who are rich and want to help in this noble effort to take care of the poor families' up-to their capacity.

In the long run, this strategy could be valuable in empowering the poor masses and decreasing the unemployment.

To comply with looming threat of unemployment, our government and public sector should initiate integrated efforts to diagnose the real picture of this dilemma. On the basis of this analysis, our policy-makers should develop strategies to address the "contemporary poor problems" while considering and taking it as a nation building task.