Pakistan's Ministry of Planning, Development, and Reform launched the country's first-ever official report on multidimensional poverty in Islamabad on Monday.
The report observed that poverty rate in Pakistan has dropped from 55 percent in 2004 to 39 percent in 2015. Four out of 19 Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty, it stated.
Pakistan's official Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was earlier published in the Economic Survey of Pakistan for the Financial Year 2015-16. The report has been prepared with technical support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.
As per the findings, people living in Fata and Balochistan are the provinces worst hit by poverty while Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) and Punjab emerged as the least poor provinces. However, the poverty tendency and progress was found uneven across the country. On the urban-rural divide, the agriculture sector-based Pakistan showed 54.6 percent poverty in rural areas as compared to 9.3 percent in urban areas.
Similarly, disparity existed across the provinces. The report revealed that over two-thirds of the people living in FATA (73 percent) and Balochistan (71 percent) were living in the multidimensional poverty. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stood at 49 percent, Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh at 43 percent each, whereas Punjab at 31 percent and AJK at 25 percent.
The MPI explored the poverty data at district level and declared that Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi have less than 10 percent multidimensional poverty while on the other hand Qila Abdullah, Harnai, and Barkhan all located in Balochistan- have more than 90 percent poverty.
As per the report, lack of excess to education contributed the most (43 percent) to the MPI, followed by living standards (32 percent), and health (26 percent). The figures confirmed that social indicators were still weak in Pakistan even where economic indicators appeared healthy.
On a cumulative basis, poverty ratio has decreased in Pakistan in the last decade but it actually increased in several districts in Sindh and Balochistan. The report also covered the level and composition of multidimensional poverty for each of Pakistan's 114 districts.
Pakistan's Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal said at the launching ceremony that poverty reduction was one of the core objectives of the government's Vision 2025. He further stated that inclusive and balanced growth was on top of the government's priority to benefit the marginalized communities. It would also help in Pakistan's progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he added.
UNDP Country Director Marc-Andre Franche said on the occasion that the multidimensional poverty provides useful analysis and information for targeting poverty and reducing regional inequalities. "Many countries are using MPI to inform government priorities for planning and it is encouraging to see Government of Pakistan adopting MPI to complement monetary poverty measure in Pakistan," he added.
Director OPHI Sabina Alkire mentioned that the MPI has been development with input from all provinces which makes it a robust tool to target poverty in the country.
The Multidimensional Poverty Index uses a broader concept of poverty than income and wealth alone. It reflects the deprivations people experience with respect to health, education and standard of living. Since its development by OPHI and UNDP in 2010, many countries, including Pakistan, have adopted this methodology as an official poverty estimate, complementing consumption or income-based poverty figures.