40% Pakistanis live in poverty: lowest in Punjab (31%), highest in Balochistan (85%)
Pakistan’s new poverty index reveals that nearly 40 percent of Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty, with the highest rates of poverty in FATA and Balochistan.
Rather than income and wealth alone, the multidimensional poverty index (MPI) uses broader measures to determine poverty based on access to healthcare, education and the overall standard of living, thus giving a more detailed understanding of poverty, says a UNDP Pakistan report.
While the poverty index showed a strong decline, with national poverty rates falling from 55% to 40% from 2004 to 2015, the progress across different regions is uneven.
Poverty in urban areas is 9 percent as compared to 55 percent in rural areas, emphasizing the need to make rural-centric economic policies. It is worth noting, moreover, that some two-thirds of Pakistan’s population of more than 184 million live in rural areas.
Disparities also exist across provinces.
Among the provinces, multidimensional poverty is highest in Balochistan (85%) and lowest in Punjab (31%), whereas considering the standard errors, there is no significant difference between the poverty levels of Sindh and KP.
The report found that over two-thirds of people in FATA (73 percent) and Balochistan (71 percent) live in multidimensional poverty.
Poverty in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stands at 49 percent, Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh at 43 percent, Punjab at 31 percent and Azad Jammu and Kashmir at 25 percent.
There are severe differences between districts: Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi have less than 10 percent multidimensional poverty, while Qila Abdullah, Harnai and Barkhan (all in Balochistan) have more than 90 percent poverty.
Deprivation in education contributes the largest share of 43 percent to poverty followed by living standards which contributes nearly 32 percent and health contributing 26 percent.
These findings further confirm that social indicators are very weak in Pakistan, even where economic indicators appear healthy.
The report also found that the decrease in poverty was slowest in Balochistan, while poverty levels had actually increased in several districts in Balochistan and Sindh during the past decade.
In Sindh, Tharparkar has been declared the poorest district with 87% population living under the poverty line followed by Umerkot 84.7%, Tando Muhammad Khan 78.4% and Badin and Kashmore where almost 75% of the population is poor.
In Punjab, Muzaffargarh (64.8%) and Rajanpur (64.4%) are the poorest districts, followed by DG Khan 63.7% and Bahawalpur 53%. All these districts are part of southern Punjab, which has been neglected by successive governments over the years.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said poverty came down largely because of the growth in the informal economy. “It is unfortunate that many millions are still left behind,” he said while commenting on the findings of the report.
Mr. Iqbal said the development was not about numbers but about people. “No matter how good numbers look, such development only caters to the need of the elite and the powerful,” Iqbal said.
With better job and business opportunities, Karachi maintained its reputation as the ‘mother of the poor’. Poverty in Sindh’s capital stood at 4.5% in 2014-15, decreasing the poverty ratio for the province as a whole. In 2008-9, 10.5% of Karachi’s population lived below the poverty line.
The report has been compiled with technical support from UNDP Pakistan and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.
Source: PK On Web. Date: July 4 2016