From Poverty to Prosperity By Dr Yasin Khan Durrani

Poverty is a social curse in any society, and the poverty challenges are getting bigger day by day in Pakistan, while the Govt.

is struggling hard get over it.In fact, the fight against poverty is a dynamic process, people who cannot make both ends meet are living under abject poverty.

It is evident from the shortage of food, shelter, clothing, clean water and health care to 70% of the population living in non-urban areas.

How can we eliminate the scourge of social inequality in our society is the core issue and what should be the role of the Govt.

and private institutions to eliminate it. Prudent polices of the Govt. to explore the untapped economic and trade potentials in various fields is the need of the hour.

In a country where economy is based on Agriculture cum Industry, revitalization of rural industry is the keytoeliminate the absolute poverty.

First of all we must earmark the number of poverty-stricken and un-privileged places, unapproachable hilly sites and unfriendly hill-tops where the process of poverty eradication is to be instituted with planned strategies.

Such areas are to be managed at Provincial level and be controlled by the Federal authority with proper financial support.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Development, 55 million Pakistanis (29.5 %) live below poverty line, which is increasing day by day, as the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer due to existing system of feudalism, corruption, political instability and population explosion, which will bring grave consequences if effective steps are not taken in time.

According to the global multi-dimensional Poverty Index-2019,HDI report-2020,38% of the population lives in poverty and Pakistan ranked 150th position in 3 basic dimensions of human life i.e., longevity, health and access to decent living.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has further increased the poverty as people have lost their jobs with no other source of income to feed their families.

Hence, each community has to be assessed through survey to exactly indicate the need of the deprived people and how to get them out of poverty.

Following are the strategic roles which can help elimination of poverty.

i) Through free education.

ii) Development of resources for food, shelter, clothing, health, child labor and crime control.

iii) Economic reforms (through increase of GDP) iv) Merit based recruitment.

v) Provision of necessary resources to the deserving population.

vi) Development of Agriculture through modern technology.

vii) Formulation of effective policies apolitical level. In fact, rural vitality is the route to successful elimination of poverty. Construction of roads, transportation, rural tourism with allied services be provided at their door steps pre-requisite to rural development.

Encouragement of home-made industrial products will enable the rural population to sell their products at a much lower and competitive cost.

In this context, China is the best example for us to follow where extreme poverty has been quelled in 2020 through a short period, a year earlier to its target, as its annual economic growth has jumped to 2.3 % in a short period.

China achieved this Herculean task through tough measures in a span of 40 years. They have lifted 800 million people out of absolute poverty and became the second largest economy in the world; only through boosting agricultural productivity using advanced technology and raising educational level, allocating more funds for research..

Financial institutions enhanced the contribution to increase loan to the marginalized population and providing assistance to local projects, on a national database.

They had a strong political determination as their priority by reducing reliance on import and to stimulate the export to boost their local economy.

Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF)was established by the Government of Pakistan starting its operations in 2000.

It is a leading institution registered under Section 42 of the Companies Act, 2017 and is working across almost all the districts of the country with the help of a partner organization, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in order to promote an effective approach to the problems and to generate broad and deep impacts at the community level.

It is one of the largest establishments which promotes public-private partnerships and targets the poorest and most marginalized regions of Pakistan to bring social and economic changes in Pakistan.

PPAF focuses on ensuring that these partner organizations are well governed with transparency and accountability in all programs which remains its priority.

PPAF is proud to have built alliances and partnerships within the national, public and private sectors, as well as working with the international institutions.

To date, the organization has disbursed USD 2 billion through grants and financial services in various programs directed towards eliminating poverty and empowering the elderly persons with disabilities and religious minorities of local population through the network of Union Councils.

Preliminary achievements could be disheartening, we must develop and strengthen the institutions at the village level, which will mobilize to implement solutions of identified challenges, improving social cohesion, better quality of life and livelihood.

The aim should be to support the households to form self-helping community institutions.

In addition, we must give incentives to our farmers to improve the neglected fields like cultivation of medicinal-herb, precious stones industries, raring of silk worms through mulberry trees and honey production.

Green-house programs will produce a steady income for villagers by growing wheat, vegetables and fruitsand to sell the cash crops to bring income to the poor communities.

It will be a significant step to uplift our people for a better life.Program like BISP and Ehsaas are flagship poverty alleviation initiatives taken by the Govt.

of Pakistan through multidimensional projects pioneered by the rapid delivery of emergency cash to 12 million house-holds especially during pandemic of COVID-19.

To summarize, we have to solve the core issues of economics, social development and GDP growth through cultural reforms.

Our country is rich in national resources of minerals, coal, petroleum, natural gas and is self-sufficient in food grains, cotton, fruits which are our prized commodities at the national and international markets.

No doubt, preliminary achievements could be slackened in the beginning, but we must energize our efforts to help impoverished people for which we need a very strong political acumen, quick judgment along with poverty eradication campaigns.

—The writer is a retired professor from Rawalpindi Medical University and Hon Professor of China’s Tianjin University.​

Source: Published in Pak Observer

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