Pakistan is located in South Asia and controls part of Kashmir. The nation was first founded in 1947 during the partition of India, leading to lasting tensions between the two countries. Due to an ethnic civil war in 1971, East Pakistan became the country of Bangladesh. Today, Pakistan is one of the most populated countries worldwide. It has a robust reputation, as well as cultural and religious history. The nation relies on many natural resources for economic growth. These include minerals and oils, as well as traditional textiles that are known worldwide. Even with natural resources, there is rising homelessness in the country. Here are seven realities of homelessness in Pakistan.

7 Realities of Homelessness in Pakistan

  1. Pakistan is one of the top seven most populous countries: Currently, Pakistan is estimated to have a population of 220 million. With a growing population, the nation faces limitations to shelters and standards of living. The gap between those who are homeless and those living well off in urbanized areas only seems to be increasing. Researchers categorize 20 million people as being homeless in Pakistan. Statistics show that 35% of the total population live under the poverty line, while many barely stay above the poverty line. The conditions of homelessness in Pakistan disproportionately affect women and children because of malnutrition, healthcare and access to education.
  2. Homelessness in Pakistan disproportionately affects women and children: Of the population that is without stable shelter, women and children are the most affected. While living in temporary housing and slums, the homeless population is not receiving proper nutritious food. This leads to health issues, especially for young children who don’t have access to proper healthcare. Additionally, women and children aren’t going to school because they spend their day finding short term work, protecting their shelter and selling goods on the street.
  3. Natural disasters have a lasting effect: Over the past two decades, Pakistan has felt the effects of multiple natural disasters, from the lasting effects of an earthquake to yearly flooding. In 2005, northern Pakistan was dealing with the aftermath of a 7.6 magnitude earthquake, leaving 3.5 million people homeless, generating severe damage to the whole region. Even with the government’s help, many of those affected by the earthquake were left searching for employment and moving into temporary shelters/slums. Additionally, in 2010 Punjab felt the devastating effects of flooding that displaced at least 10 million people. Following the 2010 natural disaster UNCHR was quick to provide relief via materials for tents, food, etc. The region is still recovering from the damage and experiencing floods yearly. Damages from the floods sweep away temporary shelters, slums and require those without a home to constantly relocate.
  4. Multidimensional poverty is a factor for homelessness in Pakistan: In 2016, an official report by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform was released on multidimensional poverty being a factor in the poverty index, concluding that 39% of Pakistanis are living in multidimensional poverty. The percent has decreased over the past decade, but the progress is disproportionately effective from urban to rural regions. This index pertains to not only income and wealth but includes healthcare, education, living standards, etc. The report creates a path to understand how those in poverty may remain under the poverty line or become homeless due to outside factors. By creating these index factors, the government plans to help determine where the need lies for improvement throughout Pakistan.
  5. Imran Khan’s initiative for shelter homes: The current prime minister of the country had led his campaign on bettering situations for those under the poverty line and creating adequate housing situations for those suffering from homelessness in Pakistan. The goal of his initiative ‘Panagah’ (shelter homes) is to create shelter for the homeless and those in poverty across the country. The initiative is still underway, with multiple shelters that have been built or bought. His plan describes a five-year timeline and the initiative was first accepted in 2018. But many regions are waiting for those promised accommodations for the homeless population to reach their regions of Pakistan.
  6. FINCA international organization: FINCA is a nonprofit organization that is headquartered in the USA. The organization works on market-based solutions for people who are homeless or living in poverty internationally. Its work to uplift communities is prevalent in countries such as Pakistan with solutions provided from three categories: microfinance, social enterprise and research. As of recently, the organization has given small loans and savings accounts for 1,128,248 homeless/poverty clients to successfully create financial stability with reasonable and successful planning. Introduced to Pakistan in 2017, a mobile money platform called “SimSim” is an impactful tool for change. It allows quicker depositing, transfer and organization of money for those creating stable work for themselves. It has also provided donations to The Institute of Public Health in Punjab to help diagnose and combat COVID-19 via kits in poor communities. FINCA can be found in South Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Eurasia. The organization works to aid families to become educated and create self-sustaining work for themselves and their communities.
  7. Save the Children: Save the Children is an international nonprofit organization that focuses on providing a healthy start and opportunity in life for vulnerable children. In Pakistan, the group supported children who were displaced during the natural disasters and conflicts of 2005 to 2010. The nonprofit’s goal is to provide shelter kits, food, education and medical aid to children for over 30 years. It works with local authorities to rebuild communities of poverty. Save the Children has rebuilt 102 schools and 181 temporary learning centers in Pakistan. The nonprofit also protects and supports the basic needs of over 600,000 children.

Even with an abundance of natural resources, Pakistan still suffers from a large homeless population. The country is working to better their living standards. Natural disasters and the poverty index are key to understanding the factors involved in the displacement of families living in poverty. These seven realities of homelessness in Pakistan bring context to the issue. They also highlight where the country and organizations are putting forth efforts for change.

– Sumeet Waraich
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in PakistanPakistan is a country that has been the victim of natural disasters and chronic political and economic turmoil. These volatile conditions have led to high rates of poverty and hunger in the country. Here are five things to know about hunger in Pakistan.

Five Things to Know About Hunger in Pakistan

  1. In Pakistan, about 20% of the population is undernourished. This equates to nearly 40 million people who are not getting enough nutrients on a daily basis. This is nearly double the percentage of people worldwide who are undernourished.
  2. Poverty and food insecurity are inextricably linked. Nearly a quarter of Pakistanis live below the poverty line. In 2019, natural disasters like drought and heavy rainfall in Pakistan affected the livelihood of millions of people. In mid-2019, a drought caused acute food insecurity in the populations of seven districts, over one million people.
  3. As high as 40% of the population lives in multidimensional poverty. While 25% of Pakistanis live below the poverty line, multi-dimensional poverty takes into consideration a variety of factors beyond just a person’s income. It considers access to clean water, electricity and basic healthcare needs as well as poor infrastructure. All of these factors can impact a community’s access to food.
  4. Undernutrition and malnutrition have led to stunting in 38% of Pakistani children under the age of five. In some regions, the percentage of children who experience stunting is nearly 50%. Pakistani children experience some of the highest stunting rates in the world.
  5. Pakistan actually has a surplus of food. However, instead of being distributed to its own people, much of this food is exported. From mid-2018 to mid-2019, around a half million tons of wheat and more than seven million tons of rice were exported from Pakistan. One in five Pakistani’s are not malnourished because there is a lack of food availability, but because of socio-economic factors that prevent them from accessing the country’s abundant resources. However, even if Pakistani’s had more access to the wheat and rice resources of their country, these crops alone cannot provide a nutritious and sustainable diet.

What is Being Done

In Pakistan, there are several community-driven efforts to fight hunger and, more specifically, stunting. These groups have been able to provide nutrient supplements to more than 700,000 Pakistanis experiencing undernutrition or malnutrition.

In 2020, the Food for Peace (FFP) program, a division of USAID, has provided $2 million to UNICEF for nutrition services for children under the age of five who experience severe acute malnutrition in Pakistan. This number is much less than in previous years. In 2019, FFP provided $18 million to UNICEF and in 2018, the figure was more than $21 million.

In 2018, the Pakistani government pledged to achieve self-sufficiency in food and set a goal of eliminating hunger in the country by 2030. To achieve this goal, the government has put an emphasis on crop diversification, water management and “climate-smart” farming to reduce the catastrophic impacts of natural disasters on food security.

Pakistan is a country that has experienced political and economic turmoil for decades. These conditions coupled with the impacts of natural disasters have made undernutrition and malnutrition a huge concern in the country. While over the past several years the country has implemented initiatives to improve the food situation, the challenges surrounding food security remain and hunger in Pakistan remain a major issue.

– Jessie Cohen
Photo: Pixaby

Poverty reduction efforts in India
Poverty reduction efforts in India have seen vast improvements in the last decade. Historically, the country has seen poverty across the nation, including lack of education, lack of proper hygiene and low gross domestic product (GDP) compared to its growing population. In the last decade, economic reform and poverty reduction efforts in the southern regions of India have made poverty reduction in the nation a strong force, improving its Multidimensional Poverty (MDP) ranking and doubling India’s GDP.

Vast Improvements in the Southern States

The MDP ranking is “an international measure of acute poverty,” which is based on three measures: health, education and living standards. In the last decade, India has seen its raking increase from 54 of 102 countries to 26, a rather significant jump, which equals approximately a 34 percent decline in poverty. It seems that this decline in poverty was due to the high performance of five southern states: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

These states have an average MDP of nine percent, while India has a national average of 21 percent. The states with the lowest MDP percentage are Kerala, with an MDP of one percent, and Tamil Nadu, with six percent. Interestingly, many states in India are significantly above the national average–for example, Rajasthan (31 percent) and Bihar (43 percent)–but the promising performance in the southern states lowers the national average, showing the positive effects of poverty reduction efforts in India.

How Poverty Reduction Efforts in India Are Helping

One reason for this decline in poverty is an improvement in public facilities. Improvement in public facilities accounts for the improved quality of life and can create spillover into other areas, such as healthcare and education.

Until recently, many areas of India, including many in the southern states listed above, did not have school, health care, a post office or clean drinking water. Many of these problems have begun to be remedied.

Improvements in poverty reduction efforts in India can be seen in different ways across poorer areas of India. For example, in Surguja, most children go to school now and most families have a “job card.” Other regions, such as Uttar Pradesh, have not made nearly as much progress and many other areas are somewhere in between.

Economic Reform in India

Improvements have also been seen in India’s GDP over the last decade, with a near doubling of national income reaching $7.98 trillion. Economic reform in the nation have led to improvements in poverty reduction efforts in India. The vast array of economic reform that has taken hold of India seems to be one of the reasons for this improvement, allowing India to begin to lift its citizens out of poverty.

An example is the Green Revolution. A push for food production within the nation itself first made India reach a self-sufficient food supply, then made the nation a surplus producer of food, allowing it to export food for greater income. Additionally, India became the world’s largest rice producer in 2015.

Another example of economic reform was introducing cell phones to rural areas of India which allowed individuals to be globally connected, facilitating entrepreneurship and migration opportunities for historically cut-off areas of India. According to the CATO Institute, economic reform in India has helped reduce the number of individuals in poverty by 150 million.

While there is definitely still work to do, India seems to be on a progressive path to poverty reduction. Through economic reform measures and improved quality of life, India is giving its citizens a pathway out of poverty.

– Katherine Kirker
Photo: Flickr

Residents of the Upper Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan have been walking in the dark for as long as they can remember. However, that is beginning to change, starting with the installation of a micro-hydropower station that will bring electricity to the region.

Electricity Benefits the Economy

The introduction of electricity in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Malakand Division has provided residents with benefits that most people take for granted. They can now walk safely at night without worrying about tumbling off steep paths. The 80-kilowatt power plant also allows residents in the region to continue working after sundown. A town elder, Zareen Gujar, said, “We in Serai have never seen any development activity since this country came into being, as we had no roads, no middle school or high school, not even a dispensary. We have been living a life of deprivation.”

Resources from Pakistan 

The power plant cost $105,000, of which about $9,000 was raised locally. It provides electricity to about 700 households. Micro-hydropower stations require less water than conventional hydropower stations, and can produce five to 100 kilowatts. It is estimated that 30% or more Pakistanis have no electricity, and those who do are subject to frequent blackouts. In a country with a severe energy crisis, the people must turn to their natural resources. The massive water potential in the Malakand Division, when used properly, can help alleviate energy problems in the area.

Living in Multidimensional Poverty

As many as 58.7 million people in Pakistan live in multidimensional poverty, including 46% of the rural population. The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) measures poverty on five dimensions: education, health, water supply and sanitation, household assets and satisfaction to service delivery. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, 33% of households live under the poverty line.

Developments like the micro-hydropower station help households attain access to energy, and therefore allow adults to work more efficiently in the evening and children to study into the night. Similar power plants are in the works for the area, a step that could lead to solving Pakistan’s energy crisis.

– Haley Sklut

Photo: Maati
Tribune, United Press International