Tuesday December 05, 2023

Adverse effects of poor sanitation facilities highlighted

By Our Correspondent
September 05, 2019

LAHORE: Noted economist from World Bank Dr Ghazala Mansuri Wednesday said that only urban areas had access to piped water whereas hand and mechanised pumps are more commonly found in the rural areas, with sporadic testing for water quality and contamination.

This contamination, she explained, arises from effluent seeping into water ways and ground water used for drinking and irrigation which is highly detrimental to health.

Addressing the Second International Conference on Applied Development Economics organised by an educational institute, in her research focusing on water, sanitation and child health, she said it was puzzling that even though poverty had been on a declining trend in Pakistan, improvement in sanitation and access to safe drinking water - focal areas of MDGs - had been limited. She stressed on how stunting and wastage in children caused due to poor sanitation facilities had an adverse impact on their motor skills and immunity, regardless of the household’s income level.

Dr Ghazala Mansuri highlighted that these effects were more strongly felt in Sindh, and more so in rural than urban areas, due to inefficient human fecal waste management relative to Punjab, KP and Balochistan. She proposed that there was a need to strengthen regulatory guidelines and enforcement mechanisms in this sphere as well as provision of safe water and sanitation by the public sector.

Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry, rector of the educational institute, said that it was a sensitive time for Pakistan with the brunt being borne by the poor and vulnerable segments of society especially with regards to food poverty. He emphasised the dire need for researchers to collaborate globally to understand and address the complexities of the developing world.

The first session of the conference focused on poverty and the role of social protection in economic development. The session was initiated by Stockholm University Assistant Professor Jonathan deQuidt with his paper evaluating whether market design could contribute to increasing efficiency in reallocation problems and hence in reducing poverty. The key finding of the study shows that while comparing performance in a more complex package auction to a simpler continuous double auction, the added complexity increased efficiency, reducing the gap to the first best by around 26 percent. – a valuable insight in developing a discerning policy for the role of market design in poverty reduction. The second paper was presented by Jacopo Bonan on agricultural transformation and farmers' expectations. Using a control experiment to examine factors driving small-holder subsistence farmers to adopt new cash crops/technology i.e. oilseeds, the paper concluded that the farmers who underestimate the price of oilseeds at baseline had a higher propensity to adopt the new crop since expectations regarding profitability were effectively overstated. Therefore, the study identifies farmers’ expectations as a key driver behind agricultural technology adoption, which has an enormous role in economic development.

The last paper in the session explored the heterogeneous spillover effects of emigration on labour market activity and investment decisions in Punjab. The results demonstrate promising prospects for migrant sending households – a favorable shift in labour market activity from lower to higher status employment and entrepreneurship. Overall, migration is found to be a force for women’s empowerment, rural development and positive social change for the younger and lesser educated.

The second session of the conference was on gender with a special emphasis on policy initiatives that can be taken to encourage greater female labour force participation. The first paper of the session, presented by Dr Hamna Ahmed, was an assessment of whether motivating female students via role models is effective in encouraging their entry into the labour force. The second paper of the session, coauthored by Dr Kate Vyborny and Erica Field, explored how higher restrictions on women’s physical mobility limited their labour market opportunities. The preliminary results of the study suggest that female job seekers are more likely to apply for a job when it is more accessible by the commuting service.