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Meeting Millennium Development Goals in Pakistan

In year 2000, leaders of rich and poor nations pledged to build a better world by 2015. Among their key goals now called Millennium Development Goals: halving extreme poverty and hunger from 1990 levels, reducing by two-thirds the child-mortality rate and slashing maternal mortality by three-quarters and achieving universal primary education.

The good news is that the share of people living on less than $1.25 a day seems on track to meet the goal of halving the extreme poverty rate. However, the bulk of those gains have occurred in China and other East Asian countries. In fact, East Asia, Southeast Asia and North Africa are all on track to achieve almost all of the MDGs by 2015, but South Asia and the rest of the developing world have made insufficient progress so far, according to the current assessment by UN agencies.



The three-day summit to press world leaders to meet U.N. MDGs by significantly reducing poverty by 2015 concluded Wednesday with new financial pledges from countries but no guarantee that there will be enough money and political will to meet the targets. With many countries under financial stress from the effects of the global economic crisis as well as rising food and energy prices, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked member nations not to abandon the 1 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day. While the MDG goals encompass a variety of areas including education, health and gender parity, the first and the most important of these goals is to reduce poverty

With South Asia as the region with the largest share of the one billion global poor, the world will not meet its targets unless there is much greater focus and strong commitment to meet MDG goals in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In fact, even South Asia has a better chance of meeting the poverty and hunger reduction goals excluding India. Let's discuss the status of South Asian nations to assess where they are and what needs to be done.



India alone has the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterate people living within its borders. A new multi-dimensional measure of poverty confirms that there is grinding poverty in resurgent India. It highlights the fact that just eight Indian states account for more poor people than the 26 poorest African countries combined, according to media reports. The Indian states, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, have 421 million "poor" people, compared to 410 million poor in the poorest African countries.

OPHI 2010 country briefings on India and Pakistan contain the following comparisons of multi-dimensional (MPI) and income poverty figures:

India
MPI= 55%,Under$1.25=42%,Under$2=76%,India_BPL=29%

Pakistan
MPI=51%,Under$1.25=23%,Under$2=60%,Pakistan_BPL=33%

Lesotho MPI=48%,Under$1.25=43%,Under$2=62%,Lesotho_BPL=68%

China
MPI=12%,Under$1.25=16%,Under$2=36%,China_BPL=3%

Among other South Asian nations, MPI index measures poverty in Bangladesh at 58 per cent and 65 per cent in Nepal.

On poverty in Pakistan, World Bank economist Sanket Mohapatra has said in a recent post that remittances by overseas Pakistanis have played a significant role in Pakistan's economic improvement. Not only have such remittances contributed to significant poverty reduction in Pakistan "by an impressive 17.3 percentage points between 2001 and 2008 (from 34.5 percent in 2001-02 to 17.2 percent in 2007-08)", but "continued strong growth in worker’s remittances in the past few years has also contributed to improvements in the external current account balance” and “have facilitated improvement in the country’s external position”, according to a World Bank report released on July 30, 2010.

There are now fears, however, that some of the gains made in poverty reduction have reversed due to widespread devastation in massive floods and Pakistan's economic woes since 2008 for which the poverty rate of 17% was reported by the World Bank. Thousands of schools and clinics have been destroyed in the recent deluge, setting back Pakistan's efforts toward meeting health and education related millennium development goals by 2015.

In addition to lagging in poverty reduction, South Asians are also doing poorly in terms of hunger and health indicators.

According to a recently-released FAO report's highlights as published in The Guardian, there are 847.5 million undernourished people in the world. India tops the list with 237.7 million, followed by China with 130.4 million, Pakistan 43.4 million, Democratic Republic of Congo 41.9 million, Bangladesh 41.7 million, Ethiopia 31.6 million and Indonesia 29.9 million.

A recent report by World Health Organization (WHO) claims that India accounts for most maternal deaths in the world, with at least 63,000 such deaths taking place in 2008 alone. In fact, India fared worse than even Nigeria (50,000 maternal deaths in 2008), Congo (19,000), Afghanistan (18,000), Ethiopia (14,000), Pakistan (14,000), Tanzania (14,000), Bangladesh (12,000), Indonesia (10,000), Sudan (9,700) and Kenya (7,900). An estimated 65% of maternal deaths globally occurred in these 11 countries in 2008, with India contributing the most.

As South Asians lurch toward the 2015 deadline for meeting the MDG goals, it is important to recognize their governments' role and the need for help from rich donor nations to significantly increase spending on human development for poverty reduction. However, the South Asian governments alone can not do it. The private sector organizations, NGOs and civil society have to come forward to make their contribution toward meeting the important MDG goals to reduce poverty and hunger and improve health and literacy.

In Pakistan's case in particular, the overseas Pakistanis and Pakistan's middle class need to step forward to do their part in rebuilding the shattered lives of millions of their poor fellow citizens affected by the recent floods.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on January 29, 2013 at 9:50pm

ISLAMABAD: Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has been a success story for the welfare of the people of Pakistan. Its various initiatives especially Emergency Relief Package (ERP) to help conflict ridden people in tribal areas and victims of terrorism has been a phenomenal step. This was declared by a delegation of journalists from leading newspapers of Indonesia during its meeting with Federal Minister and Chairperson BISP, Madame Farzana Raja in BISP secretariat. The journalists appreciated BISP’s performance and were of the view that the Programme’s success in the social sector of Pakistan has been an overwhelming experience for them. The Indonesian journalists said that the welfare of the people is the primary responsibility of the state and through BISP; Pakistan has been able to achieve this objective to a great extent.
Madame Farzana Raja on the occasion informed Indonesian journalists that BISP has introduced Waseela-e-Haq (Right to Livelihood), Waseela-e-Rozgar (Right to Employment), Waseela-e-Sehet (Life and Health Insurance) and Waseela-e-Taleem (Right to Education) for its beneficiary families which are bringing sustainable economic growth in the society by empowering people from lower strata. Chairperson BISP said that BISP in the lights of the Millennium Development Goals of the UN is striving hard to provide basic health and education facilities to 7 million families. She said that the wellbeing of the people is the primary role of a welfare state. Federal Minister said that BISP is working for making Pakistan a progressive welfare state where most deserving families are provided ample opportunities to become self-reliant.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 20, 2013 at 2:32pm

Here's a Daily Times report on ADB assistance for BISP:

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced $ 200 million assistance for Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) so that it may reach out to the families not benefiting its various schemes. The announcement was made recently while a delegation of the bank was visiting the country with a special objective to look into the areas where the social safety, extended over the poverty-stricken people of the country four years back could be helped out.

Due to transparency and effective utilization of the funds, BISP has received direct technical and financial support from international donors. World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), UK Department for International Development (DFID), USAID, China, Turkey and Iran has doled out funds to support different BISP initiatives. Some countries in the Asian regions, including India, have approached Pakistan for replicating BISP model. BISP conducted countrywide Poverty Survey/Census for the first time and collected the data of almost 180 million people and 27 million households using GPS devices for the informed decision making (to cope with natural disasters and other emergencies). The poverty census completed in record time of one year across all Pakistan including Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA.

BISP took start with Rs34 billion (US $ 425 million approximately) for the financial year 2008-09 aiming to cover 3.5 million poorest of the poor families. The allocation for the financial year 2012-13 is Rs. 70 billion to provide cash assistance to 5.5 million families, which constitutes almost 18% of the entire population. The Program aims to cover almost 40% of the population below the poverty line.

More than 7 million beneficiary families have been identified through Poverty Scorecard Survey for disbursing Rs1000/month through ‘branchless banking system’ (Smart Card, Mobile Phone, and Debit Card). Called as Martial Plan and having focus on poverty alleviation through empowering the women, BISP has so far disbursed more than Rs146 billion to the deserving and needy of the country with complete transparency in about 4 years time through the elected representatives of the people, regardless of their party affiliation.

Waseela-e-Haq provides interest free loans up to Rs 300,000 to help recipients set up small businesses. The most striking feature of this program is that the female beneficiary is the sole owner/proprietor of the business and the counseling, monitoring and training for starting the business is provided through Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF).

Waseela-e-Rozgar has been launched for provision of demand-driven technical and vocational training to the deserving youth, who do not have any skill, through public/private training institutes. A total of 10,000 young males and females have been trained and another 20,000 are currently undergoing training. The target is to train 150,000 students every year.

Besides helping the poor and the marginalized sections of the society in terms of income support and skill development, the BISP is providing insurance cover of Rs.100, 000 in the case of the death of the bread earner of the poor family registered with the authority. With a view that health shocks are the major reason for pushing people below the poverty line, Rs25000 health insurance is being provided to the poorest families for the first time in Pakistan. Pilot phase has been launched from Faisalabad.

Finally, as the Poverty Survey had indicated, millions of poor children never attend any school due to financial limitations. BISP has signed contracts with all the provinces, under its Waseela-e-Taleem Program, initiated with generous help of the World Bank and DFID, to send 3 million children to school through additional cash incentives of Rs.200 per child....

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\03\21\story_21-3-2013_pg7_15

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 28, 2015 at 8:16pm

An Ambitious Development Agenda From the U.N. #sustainabledevelopment #SDGs replace #MDGs http://nyti.ms/1VljRDy 

Here's NY Times Op Ed on Sustainable Development Goals 2030:

The new targets are known as the Sustainable Development Goals, and they were formally adopted by the United Nations on Friday. Nothing appears to have been left out. There are 17 goals in all, covering areas like poverty, public health, the environment, education and justice.

So far, they are rather vaguely stated. The U.N. has not yet established statistical indicators against which to measure progress. It promises these numbers in the coming months. That won’t be easy in some cases: Goal No. 16, for example, calls on countries to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

Several goals, including those on sustainable consumption and production (No. 12), climate change (No. 13), conserving oceans (No. 14) and sustainable use of land (No. 15) cover a lot of the same ground and might easily have been consolidated. The U.N. should have picked fewer and more targeted goals.

That said, this is a worthy, high-minded effort. Developed economies like those of the United States, the European Union and Japan need to play an important role by providing more aid, expertise and private investment to developing countries. And industrialized nations need to revive their economies to help lift global growth, which the International Monetary Fund estimates will slow to 3.3 percent this year, from 3.4 percent in 2014.

Multilateral agencies like the World Bank can also help with research and by financing public works projects. And charities like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be critical in providing money and leadership to achieve public health goals like eliminating malaria and other tropical diseases (No. 3).

Realistically, some nations may be beyond help at this point because they are so deeply mired in war and other conflicts. Without peace and better political leadership, it is hard to anticipate big gains in development in places like Iraq, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/28/opinion/an-ambitious-development-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 22, 2017 at 8:11pm

The (World Bank) report ( The State of Social Safety Nets 2015) – which identifies India as a “lower middle income group” country – finds that all other BRICS countries, except China, spend a higher proportion of funds on social safety net. Thus, Brazil spends 2.42 per cent, Russia 3.30 per cent, China 0.70 per cent, South Africa 3.51 per cent, and South Africa 3.51 per cent of GDP. 
Interestingly, even the two of India’s neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh – spend a higher proportion on social safety net, 1.89 per cent and 1.09 per cent. 
The report says, “Despite having fewer resources for social safety nets, some lower-income countries allocate considerably more funds than the 1.6 percent average for developing countries”.

http://www.counterview.net/2016/02/india-poor-spender-of-social-saf...

http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/415491467994645020/pdf/97...

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 15, 2018 at 7:34am

IMF commends BISP’s contribution to fight poverty in Pakistan

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/394178-imf-commends-bisps-contrib...

A delegation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), as part of their on-going visit to Pakistan to assess the economic and financial challenges faced by the country here at BISP headquarters on Thursday.

The IMF delegation was led by Harald Finger, Advisor and Team Leader and Ms. Taline Koranchilian Deputy Director Middle East and Central Asia, whereas Chairperson BISP Dr Sania Nishtar and Secretary BISP Omar Hamid Khan BISP along with senior management represented BISP.

Mr. Harald Finger, Advisor and Team Leader IMF in his brief remarks not only appreciated the BISP performance and contribution towards the National social protection and helping the vulnerable to fight poverty while addressing the issue of malnutrition and stunted growth.

Finger pointed out the overall economic challenges faced by the country and said that social protection is one of the key areas to be focused. He added that BISP has impressive engagement working model to address the wider canvas of social protection.

Secretary BISP Omar Hamid Khan briefed the delegation on various initiatives, programmes and activities of BISP as well as its national and international partnerships. BISP is contributing towards women empowerment by supporting 5.7 Million marginalized women of this country, through Cash Transfer programme (both conditional and unconditional transfers).

BISP strongly believes in imparting International excellence, utilization of modern technology and implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for the marginalized population, in line with international standards, he added.

Secretary apprised the delegation that BISP has state-of-the-art social researcher’s team from Harvard, MIT and LSE to develop Social Protection models. They were also apprised of the public private partnerships of BISP which have contributed towards innovative approaches of tackling poverty and providing opportunities to vulnerable women to seek socio-economic empowerment.

BISP Chairperson Dr. Sania Nishtar in her remarks said that her role is to address the issues of governance and policy matters related to the board meetings.

She said the organization has zero tolerance for corruption and her job is to make the organization efficient and transparent.

She foresees the growth of Data Engine of BISP through National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) in the years to come as the sole source of information sharing to facilitate the national social protection work in the country on a massive scale.

Explaining further Secretary BISP said, that on average in Pakistan one out of every three children, is suffering from stunted growth. The case in Sindh and Southern Punjab is even worse. There are 2.5 Million women affected due to this every year.

The rate is all time staggering high and alarming, and demands immediate measures to respond.

The BISP has formulated the strategy to address the looming issue of stunted growth and related health problems.

It was also shared by the IMF delegation that to ensure the sustainability of the program financial support is also required on an assured basis to the programme.

Seniors officers of BISP also briefed about the broad contours of their programs related to NSER, Complementary initiatives and Cash Transfers. It was also conveyed to the IMF team that 2.4 million children have been enrolled in schools under the Waseela-e-Taleem programme.

They were also briefed on the future plans of BISP where it intends to bring in 8 million beneficiaries in its fold after update of the National Socio Economic Registry, thus contributing to the government agenda.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 5, 2018 at 11:03am

#Pakistan on path towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals under ‘One #UN Programme III'. The 5-year partnership framework sets direction of #UnitedNations support to the government to achieve the 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda for #SDGs https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/402150-pakistan-on-path-towards-a...

The United Nations is focused on supporting Pakistan to achieve the SDGs as efforts continue to tackle development challenges in the country under the UN Sustainable Development Framework.

This was highlighted at the 6th Provincial Steering Committee meeting of the OneUN Operation Plan III (OPIII) that was held at the Planning and Development Department Secretariat in Quetta today.


Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, Additional Chief Secretary Development chaired the meeting. Co-chairs of the Balochistan Steering Committee, Neil Buhne United Nations Resident Coordinator and Minà Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan elaborated upon the approaches to align UN Sustainable Development Goals framework with the priorities of the government of Pakistan.

Successes achieved over the last year were also presented to the participants which included high level officials from various government departments in Balochistan.

Pakistan is amongst the first countries that adopted the SDGs as National Development Goals and one of the few countries that is investing its own resources to achieve the SDGs.

The 5-year partnership framework sets out the direction of the UN’s support to the government of Pakistan to achieve the 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

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