According to a report submitted by the Ministry of Planning and Development in the National Assembly of Pakistan, nearly 29.5% percent of the total population is living below poverty which means nearly 5.5 million people, another 10 million are expected to move into poverty due to the pandemic.
Since 1990, more than 1.2 billion people in the world have risen out of extreme poverty. Now, 9.2% of the world survives on $1.90 a day or less, compared to nearly 36% in 1990. While the COVID-19 pandemic has worse consequences on all economies globally.
According to World Bank additional 88 million to 115 million people will fall into extreme poverty in 2020 and with the total rising to many 150 million in the year 2021.
Over the past two decades, Pakistan has made significant progress in fighting poverty, reducing it by more than half since 2000. As one of the first countries in the world to declare Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of its national development agenda and updating the national poverty line in 2016. Pakistan has remained committed to improving multi-dimensional poverty measures.
As per the latest official statistics, poverty declined from 29.5% in 2013-14 to 24.3% in 2015-16. Of all 114 countries for which the World Bank measures poverty indices, Pakistan was amongst the top 15 that showed the largest annual average percentage point decline between 2000 and 2015. Despite this, by 2015, around 50 million people still lived below the national poverty line. Since then, the pace of poverty reduction has slowed down. This is partly due to the macroeconomic crisis resulting from structural economic issues and the lack and inadequate implementation of pro-poor policies. There are many factors to contribute this high poverty rate.
Main Causes of Poverty
There is no magic bullet to reduce poverty but understanding its causes is a good first step. So what are the main causes of poverty? Here are the 10 root causes:
1. Lack of Clean Water and Nutritious Food
As we know there is a huge number of causes of poverty which includes inadequate clean water and nutritious food. Currently, millions of people are suffering from hunger and billion people have no access to clean water. Almost every day many Pakistanis go to sleep without taking food. If a person doesn’t have enough food to eat they have many iron deficiencies. Due to poor diet, they don’t have the energy or strength to work.
While lack of access to clean water may cause many diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, and malaria, etc. There are the following diseases that are affecting people below the poverty line include AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, measles, pneumonia, etc. Mental illness also occurs due to a lack of improper diet.
Another cause of poverty in Pakistan is inequality. There are many types of Inequality in the world like gender, tribal affiliations, caste systems. In such a situation people might not be heard in community meetings therefore their many problems remain unsolved. Inequality in income can reduce labor productivity, which can lead to economic instability. According to United Nations Social Policy And Development Division “ When there are Inequalities in income distribution, basic social services, productive resources, and opportunities then it results in poverty”.
3. Poor Education
Not every uneducated person is called poor but most extremely poor don’t have an education. There are a lot of problems which are stopping children from going to schools. Most families are unable to send their children to schools due to a lack of financial resources. Most people still don’t see any benefit to educate girls. If we have no education then we are unable to apply for jobs, we would not aware of new technologies to use in our businesses, new earning methods. Due to lack of education countries don’t meet the international standard that results in a decrease in the wealth of a society.
According to United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, 171 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty if they left school with basic reading skills. And, world poverty could be cut in half, with more education.
As we know thousands of educated people around the world are out of a job. There are no opportunities for youth to utilize their abilities in the right direction.
When people don’t have jobs they have no source of finance to fulfill their basic household expenditures. This can lead to borrowing money, use of savings, or even to homelessness and criminal activities.
Currently, the unemployment problem in young individuals may increase the chances of further poverty in the future- the burden to work is more heavily placed on future generations.
5. Conflicts / Warfare
Conflicts can cause poverty in society in many ways. Countries that are facing fragility, crises, and violence are home to about 10% of the world’s population, in these countries more than 40% of people living in extreme poverty. In large-scale prolonged violence that we see in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir can destroy the infrastructure, forcing people to migrate and sell or leave their assets. Even small violence has huge bad impacts on communities like depression, anxiety, pregnancy complications, eating and sleeping disorders. This can cause man economic impacts like inability to work and loss of income, counseling health care costs these all situations lead us towards poverty.
6. Lack of Infrastructure
Infrastructure includes roads, bridges, internet, public transport that are needed for a country to function properly. Infrastructure plays a vital role in economic development. Many poor people are living in the rural areas who are facing many issues due to roads. Thus, people have no access to get an education, health care, and go for jobs in cities. Many of the world’s poor people live in rural areas isolated by distance and poverty from employment and economic opportunities, markets, healthcare, and education. Lack of basic infrastructures such as bridges and roads and access to transport services makes it difficult for poor people to access markets and services. This is the reason that rural isolation results in low agricultural productivity which brings poor market access and low use of fertilizers and modern agricultural technologies. Lack of infrastructure brings poor standard living, economic deficit because infrastructure connects peoples to services and resources so, without the good infrastructure of the country, things do not get better.
7. Natural Disasters or Climate Changes
According to World Bank, climate change has the power to shove more than 100 million people into poverty over the next ten years. People around the world are experiencing the terrible effects of climate change. Gradually shifting weather patterns, drought, flooding severe storms rising sea levels and more extreme weather events are all clear and devastating evidence of a rapidly changing climate.
These natural disasters can threaten the world’s food supply, drive people from their homes, and separate families. As we know many of the poorest populations rely on the agriculture system, farming, hunting, and earn a living. They do not have assets to put aside for the future, so when natural disasters occur it pushes them into further poverty. And all of these adverse effects increase the risk of conflict, hunger, and poverty among people.
Corruption is growing fast in developing economies and advanced democracies which has worse effects on economic growth. Corruption affects inequality, growth, and income distribution which results in poverty. It distracts talent and resources, including human resources, and may decrease the productivity of investments by reducing the quality of resources which results in extreme poverty among countries.
9. Lack of government support
Many Countries have social welfare programs that people can access if they need healthcare or food assistance. But not every government can provide this type of help to its citizens. Ineffective governments also result in extreme poverty this is because they are unable to provide the necessary facilities and security for their citizens in the event of a conflict. Therefore government must need to be involved to resolve various issues. However, If a government fails to meet the needs of the poor, the poor will most likely stay that way.
10. Lack of reserves
Poor families usually don’t have money for future uncertain conditions like storms, illness, drought, and conflict. When such situations occur they have little money saved or assets on hand to help. To deal with these difficult situations people pull their children from schools and sell their assets to buy food. This may lead to hunger, criminal activities, child labor, homelessness, and children’s antisocial behavior. The families facing these prolonged uncertain conditions find it difficult, to escape extreme poverty.
Solutions to Cut Poverty
To reach the target of ending poverty, much work is needed.
- Firstly, rapid implementation of sustained economic growth policies and programs are needed in different sectors such as health, education, nutrition, and sanitation. This implementation brings the literacy rate upward and could reduce unemployment and poverty in society. Likewise high quality in health helps low-income children build the foundation for skills which results in better education, jobs, and earnings which allows the poor to contribute to economic growth.
- The government should improve macroeconomic conditions among countries such as lower inflation, lower taxes for lower-income groups, and positive economic growth.
- Most people are engaged in the agriculture sector, so government should provide equal access to resources to farmers such as agriculture loans, incentives, and technological facilities. By improving agricultural research and extension systems, adopting of latest agriculture technologies and inputs, enhancing good quality seed production, improving irrigation water management results in high productivity.
- The federal government should invest in job creation strategies such as the development of energy resources, rebuild infrastructure, and renovating abandoned housing. This results in better infrastructure, many employment opportunities and boosts our economy
- Trade is the way to the growth and development of a country. Another way to reduce poverty is to encourage countries to engage in trade. Countries tend to grow faster, innovative and providing more opportunities to their people. Apart from that open trade also benefits poor income groups to buy products at affordable prices. Most of the poor countries have traded to get out of poverty.
- The government should provide their citizens equal access to resources, income, and services that raise economic growth.
- We must learn more about how to help our communities to cope with natural disasters, innovation and training in different sectors, focus on research and development.
- Effective law should be enforced by the government to ensure the corrupt are punished.