Poverty in an International Context

The poverty situation in the international context, as reflected in the country's social indicators profile vis-à-vis other developing countries, is equally depressing. According to the Human Development Index (HDD, compiled by the UNDP (1995), Pakistan ranks 128 compared to, for example, China and Sri Lanka which are placed at positions of 111 and 97 respectively. 

It is important to note that there have been quite a number of programmes which various governments have been undertaking from time to time to improve provision of social facilities like education, health, water, sanitation, etc., particularly in the rural areas. Details of such policies up to the 1970s may be seen in Ali (1985). More important of these along with new ones adopted beyond 1970s are listed below in an annotated form:

Rural Works Programme (RWP) [1963-71]: Designed to use underemployed and unemployed persons in rural areas for improving economic and social conditions there, focusing on construction of roads, bridges, schools and dispensaries. The programme was to be financed through the rupee counterpart funds of PL-480. It was renamed as People's Works Programme in 1972.

Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) [1972-80]: Developed in 1972 along lines recommended by the FAO and approved by the UN, aiming at development of the agricultural economy and at rural uplift. The total allocation during the period 1972-77 amounted to Rs 210 million against which Rs. 131 million were utilised.

Rural Development Programme (RDP) [1977-86]: Initiated in 1977 integrating all earlier programmes into a comprehensive RDP with a philosophy that rural development needed not only agricultural development programmes but also an expansion of physical and social infrastructure at the village level. During the 5th Five-Year Plan, an amount of Rs. 597 million was allocated for the programme.

Five-Point Programme [l986-1988]: Introduced in December 1985 the four-year programme inter alia envisaged rural development (education, health, roads, electrification, water supply and sanitation); improvement of kachchi abadis; rural housing for low-income groups; and an integrated manpower plan for provision of jobs to educated youth.

People's Programme [l989-1990]: Initiated in December 1988 with an objective of promoting employment and developing badly-needed social services, giving priority to supply of drinking water, education and health.  An  amount of  Rs. 2 billion  was earmarked for the programme.

Tameer-e-Watan Programme [1991-1993]: Launched in July 1991 with the participation of elected representatives to expand provision of basic amenities. The programme started with an initial allocation of Rs 1,600 million.

Social Action Programme (SAP): Initiated in 1992-93 with focus on primary education, basic health, population welfare and rural water supply and sanitation. The programme involved a total expenditure of $ 8 billion, 75 percent to be financed by the government and 25 percent by the donors. The major targets under the 5-year SAP [Govt. of Pakistan, (1994)] are:

  • Enhancing primary school enrolment ratio from the existing 69 percent to 88 percent by 1997-98.
  • Reducing infant mortality from 86 to 65 per 1000 births.
  • Reducing the population growth rate from 3 percent to 2.7 percent.
  • Enhancing the coverage of the rural population with access to water supply from 47 percent to 71 percent, and with access to sewerage and sanitation from 14 percent to 32 percent.

Failure in social development despite so many programmes may be attributed to at least three major flaws in their implementation: limited allocations of funds due to overall financial constraint; mismanagement and poor delivery of services; and frequent changes in the programmes with the advent of new governments, except for SAP which has a bi-partisan concurrence and support.


Source: Poverty Alleviation in Pakistan: Present Scenario and Future Strategy, Mohibul Haq Sahibzada. Republished with permission. 

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