Multidimensional poverty


The recent release of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) brings into focus the multifaceted nature of poverty in Pakistan. According to estimates based on surveys from 2017-22, about 21.5% of the population in Pakistan experiences severe multidimensional poverty, while an additional 12.9% is vulnerable to multidimensional poverty. These figures serve as a stark reminder that despite global progress in poverty reduction, Pakistan still faces significant challenges in improving the well-being of its citizens.

Pakistan’s struggle against multidimensional poverty requires a comprehensive and targeted approach that addresses the various dimensions contributing to deprivation. Beyond focusing solely on income poverty, it is essential to address issues such as access to quality education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation and basic infrastructure. Education remains a critical aspect of poverty reduction efforts. Despite progress in increasing enrollment rates, quality education remains elusive for many. Ensuring access to quality education and investing in school infrastructure are vital steps towards breaking the cycle of poverty and empowering individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary for upward mobility. Additionally, efforts must be directed towards improving living conditions, including access to clean water, sanitation and housing. These basic amenities are integral to human dignity and well-being. It is worth noting that the Pakistani government has taken steps to address the problem through various social welfare programmes, such as Ehsaas and BISP, but they have largely been ineffective. Therefore, they need to be continuously evaluated and expanded to ensure maximum impact.

While the road ahead may seem challenging, Pakistan has the potential to make substantial progress in reducing poverty. It is imperative for the government, civil society and the global community to join forces and work towards creating a more equitable and prosperous Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2023.

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