Is Pakistan's Social Sector Making Progress?

If you read Pakistan media headlines and donation-seeking NGOs and activists' reports these days, you'd conclude that the social sector situation is entirely hopeless. However, if you look at children's education and health trend lines based on data from credible international sources, you would feel a sense of optimism. This exercise gives new meaning to what former US President Bill Clinton has said: Follow the trend lines, not the headlines. Unlike the alarming headlines, the trend lines in Pakistan show rising school enrollment rates and declining infant mortality rates.

Key Social Indicators:
The quickest way to assess Pakistan's social sector progress is to look at two key indicators:  School enrollment rates and infant mortality. These basic social indicators capture the state of schooling, nutrition and health care. Pakistan is continuing to make slow but steady progress on both of these indicators. Anything that can be done to accelerate the pace will help Pakistan move up to higher levels as proposed by Dr. Hans Rosling and adopted by the United Nations.
Pakistan Children 5-16 In-Out of School. Source: Pak Alliance For M...


Rising Primary Enrollment:
Gross enrollment in Pakistani primary schools exceeded 97% in 2016, up from 92% ten years ago. Gross enrollment rate (GER) is different from net enrollment rate (NER). The former refers to primary enrollment of all students of all ages while the latter counts enrolled students as percentage of students in the official primary age bracket. The primary NER in Pakistan is significantly lower but the higher GER indicates many of these kids eventually enroll in primary schools albeit at older ages. 
Source: World Bank Education Statistics
Declining Infant Mortality Rate: 
The infant mortality rate (IMR), defined as the number of deaths in children under 1 year of age per 1000 live births in the same year, is universally regarded as a highly sensitive (proxy) measure of population health.  A declining rate is an indication of improving health. IMR in Pakistan has declined from 86 in 1990-91 to 74 in 2012-13 and 62 in the latest survey in 2017-18.

Pakistan Child Mortality Rates. Source: PDHS 2017-18

During the 5 years immediately preceding the survey, the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 62 deaths per 1,000 live births. The child mortality rate was 13 deaths per 1,000 children surviving to age 12 months, while the overall under-5 mortality rate was 74 deaths per 1,000 live births. Eighty-four percent of all deaths among children under age 5 in Pakistan take place before a child’s first birthday, with 57% occurring during the first month of life (42 deaths per 1,000 live births).

Pakistan Human Development Trajectory 1990-2018.Source: Pakistan HD...

Human Development Ranking:

It appears that improvements in education and health care indicators in Pakistan are slower than other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017.

Expected Years of Schooling in Pakistan by Province 


There was a noticeable acceleration of human development in #Pakistan during Musharraf years. Pakistan HDI rose faster in 2000-2008 than in periods before and after. Pakistanis' income, education and life expectancy also rose faster than Bangladeshis' and Indians' in 2000-2008.

Now Pakistan is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) represents human progress in one indicator that combines information on people’s health, education and income.

Pakistan's Human Development Growth Rate By Decades. Source: HDR 2018

Pakistan saw average annual HDI (Human Development Index) growth rate of 1.08% in 1990-2000, 1.57% in 2000-2010 and 0.95% in 2010-2017, according to Human Development Indices and Indicators 2018 Statistical Update.  The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

Pakistan Human Development Growth 1990-2018. Source: Pakistan HDR 2019


Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future:

Pakistani leaders should heed the recommendations of a recent report by the World Bank titled "Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future" regarding investments in the people. Here's a key excerpt of the World Bank report:

"Pakistan’s greatest asset is its people – a young population of 208 million. This large population can transform into a demographic dividend that drives economic growth. To achieve that, Pakistan must act fast and strategically to: i) manage population growth and improve maternal health, ii) improve early childhood development, focusing on nutrition and health, and iii) boost spending on education and skills for all, according to the report".
Pakistani Children 5-16 Currently Enrolled. Source: Pak Alliance Fo...


Summary: 

The state of Pakistan's social sector is not as dire as the headlines suggest. There's reason for optimism. Key indicators show that education and health care in Pakistan are improving but such improvements are slower than in other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017. It is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018. One of the biggest challenges facing the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is to significantly accelerate human development rates in Pakistan.
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Comment by Riaz Haq on August 28, 2021 at 5:04pm

#Pakistan to launch 911 #emergency helpline PEHEL (Pakistan Emergency HELpline) across the country. https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/single-emergency-helpline-...

Different emergency numbers will be merged into one hotline

Islamabad: The Pakistan government is set to launch an all-in-one emergency helpline 911 to swiftly respond to call for help across the country.

Different emergency numbers will be merged into one hotline called Pakistan Emergency Helpline (PEHEL). The idea is to launch a service similar to the 911 helpline in the United States.

The project is being implemented by the National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) and the Digital Pakistan initiative of the IT ministry. NTC, which is responsible for providing secure and reliable telecommunication services to government organizations, is spearheading the initiative to help the citizens in distress. The software applications are being developed by NTC and the National Information Technology Board (NITB).

The dedicated emergency response number can be dialled to avail different services including police, ambulance, and other rescue and support so that the citizens will not have to go through different helplines during emergencies.

The decision was taken in the wake of the horrific rape incident at Lahore-Sialkot Motorway in September 2020 in which the victim failed to get any help through the motorway helpline. The incident prompted Prime Minister Imran Khan to launch a dedicated hotline to prevent such crimes and offer citizens immediate help during the emergency situation.

Khan had asked the PM Delivery Unit (PMDU) to complete work on the emergency helpline by December 2020. However, the launch of the pilot project in Islamabad is expected to take another two months. The testing of the service has been completed. The operations would initially begin at Safe City Islamabad.

The PEHEL 911 service would offer a “unified and one-window access to all emergency services” in Pakistan, according to IT Minister Syed Aminul Haq. The IT ministry will provide technical support and infrastructure and the interior ministry will ensure the smooth....

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 13, 2021 at 10:27pm

The missing third: An out-of-school children study of Pakistani 5-16 year-olds

https://www.dawn.com/news/1643918

The proportion of out-of-school children at the district, provincial and national level has been extracted from the Pakistan Social and Living Measurements Standards survey 2019-20 (PSLM). PSLM is conducted every two years by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, with data collection at the provincial and at the district levels in each alternate iteration.

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Out of all children in Pakistan between the ages of five to 16 years, 32 per cent, i.e. one third, are out of school (Note: 49% of these never enroll while 51% drop out by the age 16). This amounts to an estimated total of over 20 million. Balochistan has the highest proportion of OOSC at 47 per cent followed by Sindh at 44 per cent.

In absolute terms, Punjab has the largest total population of OOSC roughly estimated at 7.7 million followed by Sindh at 6.5 million.

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There are two types of OOSC (Out of School Children):

• Children who have never attended school

• Children who have attended school in the past but have since dropped out

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https://mathsandscience.pk/

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 14, 2021 at 7:02pm

From Dawn's story "The missing third"

Of all children between the ages of 5-16, the highest enrolment rate is observed among nine years olds (82 per cent) followed by 11 year olds (81 per cent). It is interesting to note that the same trend is observed for boys and girls virtually across the range of five to 16 years. The only difference is percentage of enrolment of each age group is higher for boys than girls.

The data indicates two underlying themes:

• First time enrolments happen later than required — The data shows that enrolment rates pick up steadily from five years to nine years. It shows that more and more children are enrolled into the system much beyond the age of five. It also indicates lack of emphasis on early childhood education leading up to class 1.

• Drop outs start to happen between 9-11 years of age — The data shows a steady decline in enrolment percentages after 11 years, as children go beyond the primary school age. Possible reasons are limited access to middle and high schools which are typically fewer and farther compared to primary schools and rising opportunity costs.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1643918

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 3, 2021 at 5:59pm

3 Ways Hunar Ghar Helps Women in Pakistan


https://www.borgenmagazine.com/hunar-ghar-helps-women-in-pakistan/

Hunar Ghar helps women in Pakistan find confidence in themselves. Professional instructors teach skills such as embroidery, sewing, hairdressing, block printing and bag-making. Women enrolled in Hunar Ghar’s courses receive high-quality training allowing them to master their chosen skills. Learning improves by providing materials such as sewing machines, needles and cloth. All are entirely free for students. After completing their course, the women get an official certification to honor their hard work and achievements. Armed with the certificate, students can feel more confident in themselves and their abilities.

Hunar Ghar guides Pakistani women through the path of starting a business. After students complete their course, Hunar Ghar offers them the chance to sell their handmade products at the organization’s fundraisers and other events. Enrolled women get the opportunity to show their intricate kurtas, block print bags, hand-painted kitchenware and more to a large audience. As a result of more Pakistani consumers viewing their work, the women may begin to make a profit for themselves. Every year, nearly 250 Hunar Ghar course graduates can become entrepreneurs and establish their businesses.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 4, 2021 at 7:40am

PM Imran Khan launches Kamyab Pakistan Programme (KPP).
Under the programme, the government will provide Rs1.4 trillion micro loans to 3.7 million households across the country.
Kamyab Pakistan Programme has been designed to transform the lives of the marginalised segments of the society.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/373832-pm-imran-to-inaugurate-kamyab-paki...


Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday launched ambitious Kamyab Pakistan Programme (KPP) worth Rs1400 billion in Islamabad to facilitate the vulnerable segments of the society.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of Kamyab Pakistan Programme in the federal capital, PM Imran Khan said that the project should have been launched 74 years ago.

The prime minister termed the KPP a landmark initiative and said that it will bring improvement in the living standards of the common man.

“Our system is made to facilitate the elite class,” the prime minister said, adding that the state of Madina was a role model for him.

Terming the Madina state the world’s most successful model, PM Imran said that people become prosperous after a welfare state was established in Madina.

Lashing out at the previous governments, the prime minister said the flawed policies of the past left far behind our marginalized segments of the society.

“Inequality is the basis of the downfall of any society,” PM Imran added. He maintained that no government worked on the uniform syllabus in the country.

Referring to China’s progress, the prime minister said that Beijing took measures to facilitate the vulnerable segments of the society and became a developed country within 35 years.

PM Imran, while talking about petrol prices, said, “In Pakistan, prices of petroleum products are less as compared to other countries of the region.”

“We have also tried to absorb the maximum pressure of international increase in the prices of commodities. There has been 100% increase in the prices of petroleum products over the last few months but we only increased their prices by 22%,” said the prime minister.

He maintained that his government reduced sales tax and levy on petrol to facilitate the masses.

It is pertinent to mention here that under the flagship programme, the government will provide Rs1.4 trillion micro-loans to 3.7 million households across the country.

The KPP will be rolled out in phases. During the first phase, the loans will be provided to the deserving families in Gilgit-Baltistan, AJK, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the underprivileged areas of Punjab and Sindh.

In line with the vision of the prime minister to empower the masses, the government has taken multiple initiatives, which are targeted towards poverty alleviation, employment generation and provision of affordable housing for the people.

The KPP initiative has been designed to transform the lives of the marginalised segments of society. The programme shall disburse microcredit amounting to Rs1,400 billion for the poorest of the poor, providing them with much needed financial support to improve their livelihood. Financing under the KPP shall only be extended to families with a cumulative average monthly income of up to Rs50,000 per month.

This is the first programme of its kind in Pakistan’s history wherein the banks are being connected to the lowest income segment through micro-finance institutions. KPP, a brainchild of Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, is based on the concept of financial empowerment i.e. creating opportunities to improve the financial health of people with limited access to resources.

The finance minister stated that the government is firmly committed not to provide fish to the poor people but teach them how to catch one for a sustainable living arrangement under the umbrella of KPP. The whole paradigm of KPP will change the lives of the underprivileged people in Pakistan over the years. The programme is based on the most innovative financing structure in recent times.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 4, 2021 at 7:41am

PM Imran Khan launches Kamyab Pakistan Programme (KPP).
Under the programme, the government will provide Rs1.4 trillion micro loans to 3.7 million households across the country.
Kamyab Pakistan Programme has been designed to transform the lives of the marginalised segments of the society.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/373832-pm-imran-to-inaugurate-kamyab-paki...

What is Kamyab Pakistan Programme?
KPP has five components namely (i) Kamyab Kissan (ii) Kamyab Karobar (iii) Naya Pakistan low-cost housing (iv) Kamyab Hunarmand and (v) Sehatmand Pakistan.

Under the first 3 components, micro-loans shall be disbursed amongst eligible persons registered with Ehsaas Data, scientifically collected through National Socio-economic Registry (NSER).

The last two components of KPP will be integrated with the government’s existing initiatives. Kamyab Hunarmand is designed to integrate with the government’s ongoing skill development programme for imparting educational and vocational training to our talented youth.

The KPP also includes a user-friendly portal called Kamyab Pakistan Information System (KPIS). The portal will be integrated with Ehsaas and Nadra databases for verification of beneficiaries’ eligibility to facilitate the executing agencies (i.e. MfP’s) for finalising the financing modalities in a most efficient and seamless manner.

KPP will complement the efforts of the government to counter inflation by enabling the masses to improve their livelihood.

KPP is a true dispensation of a responsible state to uplift its poor and vulnerable segments with a key focus on a “bottom-up approach” for achieving all-inclusive and sustainable economic growth as envisaged by the prime minister.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 21, 2021 at 10:01am

Pakistan’s ‘miraculous’ new health card scheme provides affordable treatment for the poor


https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/pakist...

Ishtiaq Ahmad has had heart trouble for years, but on security guard wages of only £72 per month, the chances of finding the £2,000 he needed for surgery had long seemed impossibly remote.

In his home city of Peshawar, in north west Pakistan, the free public hospitals are too often notorious for their poor care, while the better-regarded private hospitals are beyond the reach of all but the rich.

“I would look towards God to help, otherwise there was nothing. It was natural that if a person did not have the money, he will die, or suffer a lot,” he explained to The Telegraph.

The reason Mr Ahmad is now finally convalescing after heart valve surgery is a new government-funded health insurance scheme which is being rolled out across Pakistan.

The scheme's architects claim it has the power to quickly transform healthcare in a country where it has long lagged behind other developing nations. The Sehat health card which began as a flagship policy for prime minister Imran Khan's ruling party will soon be rolled out to cover most of the world's fifth most populous nation.

---------------

Dr Syed Shahkar Ahmed Shah, chief executive of the public Peshawar Institute of Cardiology, said: “Previously it was very frustrating because you could see these kids and adults who did not have money to pay and the government did not have enough money to fund the public hospitals.

“The families out of desperation would end up selling their land or cattle or homes to be able to afford these surgeries and the whole family would go deeper into poverty. Literally if you had a major health issue in Pakistan, it was a death sentence for the whole family. Economically they were just ruined. The Sehat card has been amazing. It really is a miraculous scheme.”

Treatment is provided through approved public or private hospitals and the comparatively low cost of healthcare in Pakistan has meant the state-owned insurance provider has been able to provide cover at around £3 per head. The card is currently costing 22bn rupees (£93m) out of a total health budget in the province of 146bn rupees (£620m).



Taimur Jhagra, a former McKinsey consultant who now holds both the health and finance ministerial portfolios in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said: “It shows us we can do big things in this country in a short amount of time. Somehow in Pakistan, and perhaps it's true the world over, you almost always feel that if there's anything with a good story, it has to be too good to be true.

He went on: “It's giving quality access to those that tend to be viewed by many as second class citizens and deserving of only second class facilities.”

The scheme will plough money into both public and private healthcare, he said, which he predicted would raise the standard in both. He defended giving money to the private sector, saying the government already funded public care. “We are not funding the private sector, we are funding health care for our citizens, wherever they want.,” he said.

Dr Shah said he had been able to use payments from the scheme to increase his doctors' pay, which he predicted would stop them jumping ship to private providers.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 4, 2021 at 7:26am

Pakistan PM unveils country’s ‘biggest ever’ welfare programme
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan unveiled $709m package of subsidies for low-income households struggling with food price inflation.

https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/11/4/pakistan-pm-unveils-cou...

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan unveiled a $709m package of food subsidies to ease the financial burden on low-income households as the prices of essentials continue to soar in the South Asian country.

Addressing the nation on Wednesday evening, Khan described the benefits package as “Pakistan’s biggest ever welfare programme”.

“This package is of Rs 120 billion ($709.2m), which the federal and provincial governments are giving jointly,” he said. “In this, we are [targeting] the three most important food items, ghee, flour and pulses.”

Under the plan, some 20 million qualifying low-income households will be entitled to a 30 percent discount on the purchase of the three items. The federal and provincial governments will make up the difference to retailers in the form of subsidy payments.


The subsidies will last for six months, Khan said, and are aimed at the poorest households, as classified by the government-run Ehsaas welfare programme.

Pakistani households have been dealing with spiralling consumer price inflation (CPI) in recent months, with October’s CPI clocking in at 9.2 percent compared with a year earlier.

Food inflation for core commodities has been particularly high, with the price of ghee increasing by 43 percent, flour by 12.97 percent and certain pulses by 17.62 percent over the last year, according to data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

The coronavirus pandemic hit the country’s economy hard, with economic growth slowing to 0.53 percent in 2020, according to the World Bank.

Prices for food, energy and other essential goods have skyrocketed around the world this year as countries cast off COVID-19 restrictions, triggering supply shortages and bottlenecks.

World food prices rose for a third straight month in October, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization said on Thursday, hitting a new 10 year high. Last month’s increase was driven by vegetable oils and cereals.

Khan blamed Pakistan’s inflation on international commodity prices, including petrol, claiming that his government had done a better job than others to absorb global price increases.

“What can we do about this? The inflation that is coming from outside. Let Allah make it so that we have all these things in our country, then we can reduce prices, but [not for things being imported],” he said.

Pakistan, which relies heavily on imports of essentials as well as other goods, has also been hit hard by a devaluation of its currency this year.

The Pakistani rupee has lost 13.1 percent of its value against the US dollar since May.

Khan’s government has expanded welfare spending during the pandemic to address unemployment and poverty, disbursing 179 billion rupees ($1.06bn) in grants to low-income families this year, according to government data.

Consumer Price Inflation, however, appears set to continue to increase, with Khan warning in his speech on Wednesday that the government would likely have to raise petroleum and diesel prices, in response to global oil price increases.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 27, 2021 at 11:24am

What are the key findings of the Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021?
Key findings at the global level
The report mentions that there are 1.3 billion multidimensionally poor people globally.


https://blog.forumias.com/in-india-5-out-of-6-multidimensionally-po...


The top five countries with the largest number of people living in multidimensional poverty are India (381 million), Nigeria (93 million), Pakistan (83 million), Ethiopia (77 million) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (56million).

Women and Children: Almost two-thirds of global multidimensionally poor people – 836 million- live in households in which no female member has completed at least six years of schooling. These people live mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa (363 million) and South Asia (350 million).

The report also found that half of global multidimensionally poor people are children.

Women-led houses: One in six multidimensionally poor people across 108 countries live in female-headed households.

Key findings related to India
The report mentions that, in India, five out of six multidimensionally poor people are from lower tribes or castes.

The Scheduled Tribe group accounts for 9.4% of the population and is the poorest, with 65 million of the 129 million people living in multidimensional poverty. They account for about one-sixth of all people living in multidimensional poverty in India.

Following the Scheduled Tribe group is the Scheduled Caste group with 33.3 percent – 94 million of 283 million people living in multidimensional poverty.

The report further said that 27.2 percent of the Other Backward Class group– 160 million of 588 million people — live in multidimensional poverty.

Overall, five out of six multidimensionally poor people in India live in households whose head is from a Scheduled Tribe, a Scheduled Caste or Other Backward Class.

In India, close to 12 percent of the Multidimensional poor population — 162 million people — live in female-headed households.

About the Multidimensional Poverty Index
The report is developed by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 2010 for UNDP’s Human Development Reports.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 7, 2021 at 10:51am

ASER Report Findings:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/913975-educational-outcomes

These poor living conditions (in urban slums) are also reflected in the delivery of education. Around 20 percent of the urban slums surveyed did not have a government school. The majority of children living in the surveyed urban slums were enrolled in private schools (59 percent) that include madrassahs (eight percent) and non-formal education providers (one percent) and the remaining children (41 percent) were enrolled in government schools. Enrolment is higher in the 5-10 age bracket, while one in three children of 16-year-old is out of school.

There are also inter-district variations. Government school enrolment is higher in Lahore (59 percent) while private school enrolment is higher in Korangi, Karachi (again 59 percent). In terms of madrassah enrolment, it varies between two and three percent in Lahore, Malir, and Korangi, and it is 24 percent in Karachi-West where one in four children is studying in a madrassah.

Girls relatively fall behind in terms of enrolment. With regard to evaluating learning outcomes, children studying in urban slums lag behind the ASER assessment in 2019 in these very same districts conducted as part of the ASER survey. However, urban slums of these four districts are being assessed systematically for the first time in this pilot study.

According to the report, “In 2019, learning outcomes (5-16 year old) gathered in the same four districts revealed Urdu/Sindhi story reading at 46 percent, while in 2021 the four district katchi abadis, story reading in Urdu/Sindhi is 35 percent. For two-digit division in 2019, 41 percent children were competent, while in katchi abadis in 2021, it is 26 percent; in 2019, 46 percent children could read sentences in English, but in katchi abadis in 2021, 37 percent children can read English sentences. The challenges can be interrogated by gender, institution, mother tongue, psychosocial well-being etc.”

Despite challenges, girls performed relatively better in numeracy and literacy in urban slums. Similarly, children studying in private schools showed relatively better results than those studying in government schools. It is again something that has already been highlighted by me in an article ‘Private education’ (October 31) published on these pages. Madrassah students’ educational outcomes were extremely poor. Only 7.4 percent could read a story in Urdu/Sindhi, 10 percent could read sentences in English, and 4.4 percent of more than 400 madrassah students (5-16 years old) who were assessed as part of the pilot study could solve division problems.

The other important factors are learning in the mother tongue, household wealth, parents’ – particularly mother’s – education, technology availability and usage that are positively correlated with higher learning outcomes of children. The report also states that psychosocial well-being is important, and as someone who has always believed and practised in never ever giving up and always having a good fight with a positive frame of mind no matter how difficult and arduous circumstances might be at some point in one’s life, one sees the wisdom in including this variable in the report while assessing children’s well-being.

Another positive finding of the report is that technology and internet usage is prevalent in the majority of houses in urban slums. Roughly 80 percent of the households have mobile phones – 63 percent even have smartphones – and 21 percent have laptops/computers. In total, one-third of the participating households (33 percent) stated that they use the internet. This shows that there is tremendous potential for web-based technology-oriented learning and livelihoods solutions.

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