Despite the emerging economic growth in the past decades, the poverty line continues to grow rapidly. There’s no doubt that economic growth plays a major role in alleviating poverty but clearly, it hasn’t done much either. Poverty isn’t something one can throw money at and expect everything to be perfect. Instead, it has many layers to it which we will talk about below.
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice” – Nelson Mandela
Poverty has been one of the biggest problems faced by the country today. The saying “Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere” could not be any truer in the contemporary world. According to a research conducted by the Government of Pakistan, the national poverty has increased from 30% to 40% in the past decade which means that 40% of Pakistanis are earning below the poverty line. Another report by the SPDC (Social Policy Development Centre) stated that 88% of Baluchistan’s population, 51% of NWFP, 21% of Sindh and 25% of Punjab’s population are prone to poverty and deprivation.
Further, Pakistan’s planning commission report (2011) also revealed that the poverty rate has jumped from 23.9% to 37.5% only in the last three years. This may not sound like much now, but it can have devastating effects for the future generations to come.
One of the major causes of Pakistan’s increasing poverty is its population growth rate. Pakistan’s population growth rate stands at about 2.1% according to the world bank. Pakistan is also ranked 5th in the topmost populated countries. With such an immense population and limited resources, the country can only do so much. Due to high fertility rates and low mortality rates, the population will continue to grow and according to a UN prediction, Pakistan could be the 3rd largest populated country by the year 2050.
Over-population creates a chain reaction which results in child labor. Families unable to provide basic human necessities such as quality education and health to their offsprings are forcing their children into child labor to financially support their family. Deprived of their childhood and education, 11 million Pakistani children are trapped under child labor and the majority of them are subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
As of 2020, the unemployment rate in Pakistan stands at about 5.50% which is far more than what Pakistan can handle. Thousands of young doctors, engineers and fresh graduates are out of jobs due to lack of opportunities. Impacts of unemployment are rigorous and dreadful which leads to frustration and family disputes. Adding on, due to unemployment, people turn to crime and violence to provide for their families. The shrinking economy causes turmoil and chaos which leads to a domino effect even impacting the high class of the country.
Pakistan’s rich-poor gap is widening daily at an alarming pace. The rich are incrementing their money by the minute and the poor are suffering tremendously. The living standards of rich and poor show two extremely different Pakistans. The rich in Pakistan have an HDI (Human Development Index) of 0.697 whereas the HDI for poor is 0.405. With high rise buildings, mega-malls, 5-star restaurants on one side and slums, dirt floors and open defecations on the other, living in Pakistan can be an entirely different experience depending on how much money one has.
The education sector plays an extremely vital role in eradicating poverty. Lack of education is one of the major causes of poverty. A study conducted by UNESCO revealed that providing basic reading skills can lift 171 million people out of extreme poverty which could ultimately reduce global poverty by 12%. Education also prevents the transmission of poverty from generation to generation. Furthermore, education not only gives people a better understanding of themselves but also helps them to achieve sustainable economic development without substantial investment.
Through basic education, marginalized people learn more about health and are better able to protect themselves and their children against diseases. The level of health among children and young people improves if their parents have had an education. This in turn increases their likelihood of receiving, and benefiting from, an education.
Health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy population live longer, are more productive and save more. Access to clean water and sanitation directly affects health and education. Lack of clean water spreads diseases like diarrhea and cholera which takes the lives of hundreds and thousands of children each year.
When considering poverty in the developing world, people feel deep sorrow and come to the conclusion that there’s nothing that they can do. A person does not have to be a millionaire to make a difference, however, even the smallest amount of donations can drastically improve an individual’s quality of life.