Pakistan is among the nations in the developing world that has made substantial progress in poverty reduction. The amount of people living in extreme poverty has gone down considerably over the years and continues to decrease today. What drives poverty reduction in Pakistan, especially in large areas such as Lahore, is income growth. Through a combination of support programs and reforms, as well as income equality, Pakistan was able to translate income growth to poverty reduction.

According to the World Bank Group, there are over 50 million less people living in poverty in present day Pakistan than there were in 1991. Additionally, the percent of people living on less than a dollar and a quarter a day fell from 66.5 percent to 12.7 percent. However, although extreme poverty in the region has been reduced, there is still over half of the population living under two dollars a day. Despite progress made in Pakistan, there still remains a high number of Pakistanis in poverty and many more who are vulnerable to falling back into poverty, especially in large cities such as Lahore.

Lahore, a large region in Pakistan, is considered to be one of the most populated urban areas in the world and is one of the largest cities in the Islamic world. According to Index Mundi, as of January 2015, Lahore has an estimated 10 million people living in the region. The size of the region poses a bilateral problem; on the one hand, Lahore’s population and size contributes to its wealth and prosperity, while on the other hand, with a large city comes overpopulation and underdevelopment. Large cities such as Lahore often have another side to their urban development: the underdevelopment of parts of the region called the slums. Similar to the slums in various parts of India, Indonesia and Kenya, slums in Lahore are densely populated with areas lacking in basic necessities such as clean water, electricity, security and health care.

In Lahore, 30 percent of the region is considered to fall into the category of slums; however, the percentage does not take into account the amount of unregistered slum neighborhoods in the city. These slums are formed by low income communities that do not have the means to live in proper housing in the city, and they are a byproduct of over population, economic, political and social inequalities as well government intervention. Slums in Lahore are also a consequence of people moving from rural areas around Pakistan to the city in hopes of attaining a better life. The reality, however, reveals that many who move into the city have a difficult time securing employment, and eventually settle in the slum communities as a result. Health care, education, and basics such as sanitation and electricity, are extremely limited in the slums of Lahore and further contribute to low living conditions.

A solution that can bring poverty rates down in Lahore is to have more government involvement through political laws and reforms that pay special attention to these areas. More government interference and aid to counteract inequalities can be the beginning of reducing poverty in the slums of Lahore.

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: The World Bank,
Photo: Pakistan Defence