Aug 1 - 7, 2011

The poverty is a condition, where people's basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter are not met.

Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness. It certainly destroys liberty and makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult.

The term poverty is a negative scenario in human life of being dependent on others for monetary help.

Poverty is an outcome of economic, political, and social processes that interplay to worsen or ease deprivation of people.

Numerous organizations have researched into the general causes of poverty which range from the lack of resources and the nature of local climate to the political instability.

According to a UN report, poverty across the world in per cent is: Sierra Leone (70), Colombia (64), Georgia (54), Kenya (52), Bangladesh (50), Iran (40), Pakistan (33), Jordan (30), Indonesia (27), Turkey (20), Egypt (20) and Syria (12).

The third world remains poor due to the policies of the west and will remain poor not because of a shortage of food but due to the extravaganza by the west. The west with 20 per cent of the world population consumes 80 per cent of the world's agricultural production, 86 per cent of the world's goods, 75 per cent of the world's milk, 70 per cent of the world's timber, 62 per cent water, 48 per cent energy, and 45 per cent meat and fish. There is more than enough food in the world and the west just consumes the lion's share of everything.

Three billion people in the world subsist on fewer than two dollars a day, another 1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar a day, 1.3 billion have no access to clean water, three billion have no sanitation, and two billion have no access to electricity.

According to a Harvard report, 10 per cent of the world's population owned 71 per cent of the wealth and the top one per cent controlled 40 per cent. On the other hand, the bottom 49 per cent owned less than one per cent of the wealth.

The magnitude and extent of poverty in any country depends on two factors, the average level of national income and degree of inequality in income distribution. Here income means the minimum income required to purchase those items that society considers essential to maintain reasonable living. It is normally presumed that lower would be the average income or more the unequal distribution the greater the incidence of poverty.

In Pakistan, lack of access to credit, training in income-generating activities, lack of basic social services and infrastructure are critical factors behind the persistence of substantial poverty, especially in underserved rural and urban areas.

Awareness of the problem has increased recently and there is an urgency of the need to tackle and eradicate poverty with novel ways and means.

The poor are defined as those who have to sell their produce at low prices to the rich and later buy it back at high prices because they need immediate cash or money and lack storage facilities or those who work long hours for low wages because they have no bargaining power.

The poor people also suffer seriously from a lack of access to health care and educational facilities.

Poor people also report corruption and injustice from local authorities. According to various sources, South Asia contains about 47 per cent of the poor in the developing countries, while its population is 31 per cent of the world's.

Pakistan is an agriculture country with about 58 per cent of the labor force employed in agricultural occupation.

One of the major underlying causes of poverty is control of resource by elite groups, which force the poor into a patron-client relationship. Therefore, poverty alleviation can only be addressed by changing the existing power structure. This view is based on the experience that sustainable development is only possible through partnership with local communication and capacity building or local institution.

A recent evidence suggests that poverty is on the rise in Pakistan. Declining economic growth, inequality, injustice , persistence of severe macroeconomic imbalance, the flow of remittances from overseas Pakistani workers, lack of social safety and poor governance have led to a significant increase in poverty.

Poverty alleviation is central to the twin challenges of reviving economic growth and reducing social inequities.

The World Bank report highlights the spread and intensity of poverty and suggests measures to tackle it on a top priority basis. Although, the broad direction of these measures is correct, they fall short of addressing the root causes of poverty.

Among the measures, the report rightly suggests a multi-dimensional approach covering such issues as debt relief, increased and effective assistance, providing access to the markets of the developed countries, ensuring stability of the financial markets.

Poverty can also be reduced by increasing education in the country either by investing more in education, especially at the primary level or by expansion of their access to physical and financial capital.

Investments in education normally create economic opportunities.

The primary education is a universal measure to attain socioeconomic prosperity. Improvement in health status and nutrition directly address the worst aspect of poverty.

Access of the poor to the basic health services is consequently of the utmost importance, both for increasing the average earnings of poor and raising their living standards even if income remains at poverty level. Supply of drinking water, sanitation and other social sectors is also necessary.