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UN report says 50pc Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty
- Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - From Print Edition


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ranking in overall Human Development Index (HDI) has further slipped to 145th position in 2011 compared to 125th last year as almost 50 percent population of the country remains deprived of the basic necessities of education and health, says a United Nations report launched here on Tuesday.


The country’s 49.4 percent population is living into the cruel clutches of multidimensional poverty and 53.4 percent is witnessing intense deprivation, the United Nations Development Report 2011 titled “Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All” states.


At a time when there has been no official figure available in the country to measure poverty since 2005-06, the Human Development Report (HDR) 2011 is the latest authentic document on this subject.


Pakistan stood at 125th position among the club of 169 nations and was categorised as medium human development country in last year’s report. But this year’s report put Pakistan’s overall ranking in terms of Human Development Index at 145th position among 187 nations and territories and slipped into low human development category. Out of 187 measured countries there are 46 in the low human development category.


The HDR report says that another 11 per cent population is at the risk of multidimensional poverty while 27.4 per cent population lives in severe poverty. The multidimensional poverty index (MPI) defines as multiple deprivations at the individual level in education, health and standard of living.


Pakistan did not perform well on the life expectancy at birth index. Life expectancy in Pakistan stands at 65.4 years as against 67.2 years in 2010. Even Bangladesh has better life expectancy than Pakistan (68.9 years).


For gender inequality, Pakistan scored 115 among 187 countries. The labour force participation rate for female is just 21.7 per cent while for male it is 84.9 per cent, the report states. Speaking at the launching of the report, deputy chairman Planning Commission Dr Nadeem-ul Haq admitted that the country did not have long-term overarching theme for growth because of adopting short-term policies. He said for the last five years there has been no increase in per capita income due to low economic growth and high population growth rate.


He said that migration towards cities could provide solution to tackle the issue of poverty and women too would find inclusion in urban areas but these cities should not be run as bureaucratic enclaves.


According to UNDP’s statement, development progress in the world’s poorest countries could be halted or even reversed by mid-century unless bold steps are taken to slow climate change, prevent further environmental damage, and reduce deep inequalities within and among nations, according to projections in the 2011 Human Development Report.


The 2011 Report argues that environmental sustainability can be most fairly and effectively achieved by addressing health, education, incomes and gender disparities together with global action on energy production and ecosystem protection. It further warns that South Asia must overcome acute poverty and internal inequalities to maintain current rates of progress.


According to the Report, South Asia has among the world’s highest levels of urban air pollution, especially with cities in Bangladesh and Pakistan suffering from acute air contamination. The Report also warns that deteriorating environmental conditions and increasingly extreme weather conditions -such as the severe floods that have hit Pakistan for two years in a row - could undermine economic progress in many countries in the region.


In addition to providing deeper understanding of how environmental sustainability is inextricably linked to inequality, the annual Report also provides the Human Development Index (HDI), which measures national achievement in health, education and income. It was Pakistan’s late economist Mahbub ul Haq, who devised the HDI in the first Human Development Report in 1990 together with the Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen.


This year, Pakistan ranks 145 among 187 countries and territories. In comparison, India is at 134 and Bangladesh at 146 in the HDI. Norway, Australia and the Netherlands rank the highest, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger and Burundi are at the bottom.


Additionally, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) (introduced last year) identifies multiple deprivations in the same households in education, health and standard of living. In Pakistan 49.4% of the population suffer multiple deprivations while an additional 11.0% are vulnerable to multiple deprivations, states the Report.


In the Gender Inequality Index (GII), South Asian women are shown to lag significantly behind men in education and labour force participation. In Pakistan women’s parliamentarian representation has improved with 21% of parliamentary seats held by women. The GII reflects gender-based inequalities in three dimensions - reproductive health, empowerment, and economic activity. Pakistan has a GII value of 0.573, ranking it 115 out of 146 countries in the 2011 index.