World Poverty Eradication Day
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- Age 20
World Poverty Eradication Day is celebrated on 17th October to attract world attention to the severe issue of poverty throughout the world. Poverty has taken a serious form in every hook and corner of the world. Approximately 40 percent of 170 developing countries are extremely affected by poverty and Pakistan is ranked 43rd of the effected countries. A World Bank report states South Asia has 400 million poor people out of a total population of 1.42 billion. Moreover, on the basis of the 2$ a day criteria, 50 percent of the South Asian population is living below the poverty line!
Poverty is a wide phenomenon with variety of definitions by various economists and experts. It is defined generally as “the state of deprivation of basic necessities of life: food, shelter, clothes, education and health”. Moreover, it is also defined as the people earning less than 2$ per day are assumed to pass through the state of poverty.
Poverty in Pakistan
Pakistan is badly bound in the chains of poverty. Since its inception it has been the victim of this economic and social evil. Today, Pakistan’s majority of population comes under the umbrella of Poverty. According to the Pakistan Planning Commission (2009), the poverty rate in Pakistan has increased from 23.9 to 37.5 percent in the last three years! In 2005 35.5 million people were living below the poverty line but in 2009, it has crossed 70 million!
Like the other poverty effected developing countries, Pakistan’s majority of poor population lives in the rural areas. According to estimates, more than 70 percent of the poor in Pakistan live in the rural areas of the country! Due to unavailability of facilities and lack of development, the people of rural areas are getting poorer. With the rise in population but no rise in income generation, people in these areas are daily added to the basket of the poor! Moreover, the majority of the people living in these far and away villages and small towns are neglected in many ways. They do not have even the basic human rights. They seem to be cut from the other developed areas, the urban areas. Most of the people in rural areas do not have access to the employment chances and have no permanent income generation source. The majority of them are uneducated and adopt manual labor as their vocation which does not offer them enough income to make ends meet.
The people in rural areas are neglected in various aspects. They are not considered while decisions are being made for them. National or government strategies and policies rarely focus on these areas. In these areas there are bundles of problems and issues rising from the poverty and also contributing to the further severe poverty. Like the unavailability of pure drinking water, absence of basic health facility, absence of good educational institutes and lack of infrastructure!
Sense of Inequality
This has been a great dilemma in the country that people belonging to the same state, having similar nationality are differentiated and discriminated into two major social classes: Urban and Rural. Now, the people in rural areas feel themselves inferior and backward as compared to the urban people. Because, once they are labeled “rural”, they are deprived of their very basic human, social and economic rights! Whether it’s the matter of amount of funds to be invested, the planning and policies, the quotas in Urban universities and colleges, the poverty alleviation programs, the development projects, the employment opportunities, the social uplift programs or the institutional development, they are left behind. This kind of behavior by the authority creates a sense of inequality among the people. The rights that people in big cities enjoy, the poor cannot even think of that.
How can we change this………?
Vocational Trainings: As most of the rural people are uneducated they can not apply for an office job, the government with the help of NGOs must provide effective and useful vocational trainings that may enable them to earn their living. Not only this, but the authority must arrange a program to utilize their learned skills and pay them their wages.
SMES: Small and Medium Enterprises are a great source of income generation, employment generation and poverty alleviation. The government must encourage the public-private entrepreneurs to invest in this sector to uplift the rural areas by providing the local people with employment opportunities and the cheap commodities. In this way we can also utilize our local resources besides labor, like agricultural products and other raw material. These SMEs must provide the local people a chance to utilize their skills and expertise like handicrafts, pottery making Embroidery work etc.
Agricultural Development: As the majority of rural areas is involved in agricultural sector and relies upon it for the livelihood, so this important sector must be developed through technological improvements, government assistance for proper utilization of land through use of effective capital, and subsidies in time of disasters. Agricultural market must be provided for the better sale of agricultural commodities. Moreover, microfinance loans must also be provided to the small growers to encourage them and provide them a chance to use their skills and land properly.
Microfinance: Small credits can do a brilliant job by providing the poor a chance to earn their living through small level business. Though this system already exists in our economy but lack of proper execution and management has caused failure to attain maximum benefits. So terms and conditions relate with micro financing must be revisited.
Health and Education Facilities: The Government must try to improve the educational and health institutions especially in the rural areas. The birth mortality rate is on the rise in rural areas due to lack of efficient doctors and medical care. Implementation of efficient health and education system can change the poverty scenario of these areas. Educated villagers can themselves bring about change in their life style as well as their society. They can find employment opportunities and prosperous future on account of their education and knowledge.
Bill Vaughan said “It would be nice if the poor were to get even half of the money that is spent in studying them”. This is a fact that a lot of funds are spent on various research studies and programs of Poverty alleviation by government and various NGOs but we do not find any visible impact on the poverty alleviation. Because, only the policies or strategies are not enough, but the proper implementation and fair execution of these programs is required to get positive results. Moreover, the rural areas are needy of special consideration in the policy-making. Keeping in mind the dangerous rise in the poverty rate in Pakistan, it is an imperative task to wake up and sincerely try to do something to eradicate the poverty. Otherwise, we will be just celebrating “World Poverty Eradication Days” like other conventional days!
By Kamran Ahmed Soomro, Pakistan