Poverty reduction a magical task

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POVERTY IS lack of basic human needs like health, education, clean water, nutrition etc. It is a condition in which ones income is not sufficient enough to fulfill his basic needs. It is a curse and something like nobody would want to own. In Pakistan it is not a yesterday born issue, it is eating up Pakistan and now it has spread out its circle to a larger radius now. Historically it began just with independence because of lack of proper resources at that time. In 1980 there was a slight decline in its level but the level again risen up after 1990 and till now it is rising with fluctuation of time.

Now we have to overcome this problem, poverty. It is not a small task to do but we have to deal with it and reduce it, as low as we can. If economic growth alone could rapidly reduce poverty and hunger, many parts of the developing world ought to be much freer from these scourges than they are. To be sure, rapid economic growth in many developing countries, and agricultural growth in particular, has advanced global progress in reducing poverty and hunger. But even growth that reduces poverty has its limits in reaching and including extremely poor and hungry people.

The world has, of course, made a commitment to cut hunger and poverty in half. In 2000, 189 countries adopted the eight Millennium Development Goals that set targets not only for poverty and hunger, but also for primary education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, environmental sustainability, and global partnership. Yet at the current rate of poverty decline, even if the first goal of halving poverty and hunger by 2015 is achieved, at least 800 million people will still be left in poverty and 600 million will be left hungry. To move from the relative goals of cutting the proportions of poverty and hunger in half towards completely ending hunger and further reducing poverty quickly requires a new set of actions.

Reducing poverty and ending hunger seem to be becoming more a difficult goal to achieve. Although the world is a lot richer today than it was a decade ago, the numbers of poor and hungry people are declining more slowly.

Almost half the world – over 3 billion people – live on less than $2.50 a day and it is almost impossible to believe that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the worlds 7 richest people combined and believe it or not nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didnt happen and if we talk about innocent little childern then we should know that, 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).These were some of the major causes of poverty by Anup Shah

The UN World Summit for September 2005 is supposed to review progress since the Millennium Declaration, adopted by all Member States in 2000. However, the US has proposed enormous changes to an outcome document that is to be signed by all members. There are changes on almost all accounts, including striking any mention of the Millennium Development Goals that aim for example, to halve poverty and world hunger by 2015. This has led to concerns that the outcome document will be weakened. Developing countries are also worried about stronger text on human rights and about giving the UN Security Council more powers.

To reduce poverty and hunger from Pakistan, our government has made some useful contribution to make effective strategies. In the last decade Pakistan has devised at least three poverty reduction strategies meant to be used as tools for setting economic policy with the aim, at least in theory, of alleviating poverty. But their performance has made it clear that meeting the needs of a countrys poorest segment continues to take a back seat to goals such as rapid economic growth and fulfilling the requirements of international donors. The strategies have been aimed at ensuring that Pakistan continues to receive much-needed support from international lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Their success or failure, too, has depended on external factors like the global economic environment and Pakistans geopolitical role in the world.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) were first developed in 1999, initiated by the IMF and the World Bank after widespread failures of the structural adjustment programs they had developed for various countries in the 1990s. Contrary to these programs – criticized for being top-down and lacking sensitivity to national priorities – the PRSPs were developed by national governments and had poverty reduction as their central goal. The core principles of the approach were that the strategies should be country-driven, result-orientated, comprehensive, and partnership-oriented and have a long-term perspective.

Pakistans first formal PRSP (PRSP-I), completed in December 2003 and meant to be implemented over the 2004-2006 period, was prepared in a much more optimistic economic environment than the I-PRSP. Admitting that reducing poverty and inequality remained major challenges, it was based on four pillars: achieving rapid, broad-based economic growth while maintaining macroeconomic stability; improving governance, devolution, and social and economic justice; investing in human capital and improving public service delivery; and targeting the poor and vulnerable and reducing inequalities. PRSP-I also had a sharper focus than the I-PRSP, identifying agriculture, small and medium enterprises, housing, construction, information technology and telecommunications as key drivers of growth and poverty reduction.

PRSP-II, the latest strategy paper, was implemented over a much more turbulent period (2008-2010), and the increasing poverty under its watch has demonstrated the limitations of the PRSP approach when overall economic growth is not forthcoming. Its formative phase was marred by the outbreak of terrorism at home, the waning of Musharrafs grip on power, political instability caused by the upcoming elections and the sacking of the chief justice. The positive economic outlook had dwindled due to the global financial crisis, food and fuel inflation, political uncertainty and the war against terror.

While the government claimed positive changes in social and economic indicators, others including the World Bank have argued that poverty headcount has declined less than the government claimed it had (29 per cent rather than 24 per cent in 2004-2005 versus 34 per cent in 2000-2001). Yet even that is no longer the case, as there are widespread concerns that poverty has started to rise again from 2007-2008 and several economists have argued that the poverty headcount ratio has surpassed 40 per cent in 2010. It is also obvious that the improvements during PRSP-I had little to do with the strategies themselves and was more a consequence of the countrys overall economic growth, the global macroeconomic environment and geopolitical events. What is needed, instead, are plans that continue to focus on pro-poor policies and on reducing inequality through the vagaries economic and political cycles.

We need to overcome our lack of resolve to make the rich contribute their due share to national exchequer and control our vainglorious expenditure. Today we consider to be among those under developed countries but if we want to see our countrys name among those developed countries so we have to fight for our basic rights, in short, we have to reduce poverty as much as it consider negligible to have healthy nation, God bless poor people, God bless Pakistan.


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