Poverty is a curse. It is consistently on the rise around the globe. According to the latest report of the World Bank, global poverty ratio is on the rise and Pakistan is not an exemption. The ongoing global financial and banking crisis, especially in the USA and the EU has already pushed millions of people into deeper poverty.
According to the latest estimates of the World Bank, almost 40 percent of 107 developing countries are highly exposed to the poverty. Pakistan is ranked among the 43 countries most exposed to poverty risks. Poverty is widespread in Pakistan and is predominantly a rural phenomenon. Nearly two thirds of our population lives in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Many of them lack basic needs such as safe drinking water, primary health care, education and other social services.
A World Bank report titled Sparing lives, better reproductive health for poor women in South Asia has revealed that Pakistans 37.4 percent children under the age of five are malnourished. The South Asia region still has nearly 400 million poor people out of a population of 1.42 billion. Poverty is not just endemic; it is increasingly becoming concentrated with the passage of time. A high poverty ratio has decreased Pakistans spending on social sector further.
According to Pakistans Planning Commission, poverty rate has jumped from 23.9 to 37.5 percent in the last three years. The commission has estimated that in 2005 there were 35.5 million people living below the poverty line but in 2008 their number increased to over 64 million. Consequently, unemployment has also increased.
Moreover, 40 percent of the urban population lives in slum areas. Reduction in social sector spending is increasing poverty and has reduced the standard of living in the country. High inflation, price hike and shortage of commodities have also added to the problem. It is the hallmark of our macro-economy.
I would like to suggest the following steps to the government to wage a war against poverty. A massive effort for job creation and employment generation in order to reduce the high levels of poverty must be launched. Infrastructure development would be an effective tool to curb the rising ratio of poverty. Housing is another sector which needs to be promoted and encouraged through a well planned incentives package. Transportation sector should also be reactivated. Better law and order situation would be helpful in the restoration of business activities and to reduce rising poverty.