Poverty in Karachi
Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city and is the capital of the Sindh province located in southern Pakistan. Karachi is home to a major seaport on the shores of the Arabian Sea as well as massive commercial and industrial infrastructure. Increased development of air travel, in addition to the foreign traffic maintained by the commercial and financial industries, has made this city important to the overall economy in Pakistan. Regardless of these achievements, the city still faces poverty, which these facts about poverty in Karachi will illuminate.

Facts About Poverty in Karachi

  1. District governments within the city of Karachi do not have the power to increase taxes, which could be used to rectify local issues there. The Provincial Administration maintains the power instead of the taxpayers or the constituent electorate, which creates a democratic deficit within the metropolis.
  2. In regards to such a deficit, there is a notable underperformance in urban development. Foreign business is the largest part of the industry and economy in Karachi. Because of this, the Provincial Administration puts an emphasis on financial districts and expensive urban building for such purposes.
  3. A majority of tax revenue goes towards the seaports, airports, franchise business, stock brokers and telecommunication systems. The emphasis on finance and business distracts from the local problems. Most of the citizens live with social injustices daily, but their tax money is not being used to solve these problems.
  4. In Karachi, residents suffer from congested roads and poorly planned yet expensive public transportation systems. There is effectively no low-cost housing in the city, which has led to the rise of slums. There is also a shortage of water, leaving many without access to water at all, or at least water that is safe to drink.
  5. Many farmers located in the rural parts of the metropolis are deprived of water from irrigation systems. A large percentage of farmers have turned to using water that is mixed with sewage lines in an effort to grow crops. However, the produce that is harvested is often polluted and unsafe for human consumption, an unfortunate truth in the facts about poverty in Karachi.
  6. Policies geared towards the rapid industrialization of Pakistan had aimed to bring the country to its “take-off” stage. These policies, in retrospect, have actually made the rural lower class even poorer. More than ₨. 1 trillion (about $14.6 billion) was spent on infrastructure with the intention of lowering the local poverty rates in Karachi. Due to poor governance and irresponsible planning, much of this money was wasted and inflicted more economic harm on the lower-class citizens.
  7. There is a lack of access to social services and resources in poor households. Fifty percent of the rural population has been left without land, while approximately 75 percent of urban dwellers work in the informal economy.
  8. There are now more than 600 slum areas in Karachi. These slums are notable for hosting criminal activity as well as hiding criminals. In 2014, following the aerial firing on the Karachi airport, the suspects were found hiding in a local slum. Slums like Afghan Basti, Manghopir, Pehlwan Basti and Sohrab Goth are some of the better-known slums hosting criminal activity within Karachi.
  9. According to Inspector General Mushtaq Mehar, approximately 65 percent of the Karachi population lives in a slum. Residents of the slums are typically issued official identity papers, yet it remains difficult to verify and monitor them as many give false information. This makes it challenging to track down the criminals who may be hiding there.
  10. Despite these circumstances, there are many locals who are fighting back against poverty. UNDP’s Youth Employment Project provides employment opportunities as well as job training in the textile/garment industry. Around 30 percent of Karachi’s population is made up of youths aged 15-29. There are more than 5,000 students enrolled in this program. Initiatives such as this help those who cannot afford schooling to receive a valuable education and eventually earn a dependable source of income.

In his paper “Genesis of Urban Poverty”, Tasneem Siddiqui writes: “Poverty was not just about money. It is about access to power. It is deprivation not only in economic terms, but also at the social and political level.” The people of Karachi face this lack of access on a daily basis, one of the driving facts about poverty in Karachi.

The emphasis on business and finance in the city in order to better benefit Pakistan’s foreign affairs has harmed the local community. In doing so, there is a large gap in the socioeconomic ranks. Initiatives like UNDP’s program work to make the best of the given situation; however, until the governing authorities rectify the social and physical injustices, the citizens of Karachi will continue to suffer from this gap.

– Emma Fellows
Photo: Flickr

facts about poverty in tianjinTianjin is a metropolis in China near Beijing, located in the North China Plain region. It is one of four cities that are directly controlled by the Chinese central government. Tianjin is one of the most populous cities in China, and its economy has been growing at an astonishing speed. In 2016, it achieved the goals of its twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-15). Its overall GDP reached ¥1.65 trillion, or $252 billion. Its average annual GDP growth during these five years was 12.4 percent.

However, poverty still exists. Despite Tianjin’s overall economic growth, some serious problems hide below the surface and cannot be ignored. These facts about poverty in Tianjin help shed light on these hidden issues.

10 Facts About Poverty in Tianjin

  1. There are 16 city-governed districts in Tianjin. Each district has a specific economic strength. However, the economic development of Hongqiao District is driven by wholesales and retail, which is not enough to improve the district’s standard of living as the population increases.
  2. Heping District, Hexi District, Nankai District, Hedong District, Hebei District and Hongqiao District are the six most developed districts in Tianjin. For example, there are many financial activities in Heping District and business trades in Hexi District. Technology development is very significant in Nankai District, and in Hebei District, there are many creative and innovative ideas to facilitate better living standards. The overall quality of life is good in these districts thanks to their prosperity,
  3. According to research on urban poverty in China, if the income of a household is lower than ¥210 ($33) per capita per month, that household is considered to be living in poverty.
  4. There are many internal Chinese migrants in Tianjin, and the rate keeps rising. The majority of migrants are around 15 to 59 years old, totaling 77 percent of all migrants. Many of them come to Tianjin to seek job opportunities. However, a large number of them begin with low-income jobs, such as construction workers and bricklayers.
  5. There is very limited usable water for Tianjin citizens. There are a total 15 million people in the city, but only 4.9 percent of the water is drinkable.
  6. Since Tianjin is very close to Beijing and Hebei, these three cities comprise the Beijing mega-region. Four years ago, President Xi Jinping announced a plan to integrate rural villages near the mega-region with the three cities. Many farmers in these villages do not have a heating system in the winter, and they even cannot afford firewood to warm themselves. The announced plan redistributes resources equally, so village citizens are consistently provided with basic needs.
  7. In March, Tianjin Party Chief Li Hongzhong stated that it was no longer feasible for Tianjin to rely on old industries, and that Tianjin should transition to a tech-based economy. Its aim for GDP growth in 2018 is 5 percent. To achieve this goal, there will be a “revolution” in Tianjin government management, and officials will focus more on improving living conditions of households who are below the poverty line. 
  8. There is a plan called the rural settlement which provides living spaces for people in historically impoverished areas and reconstructs the countryside. This plan has had outstanding effects so far. Rural areas are gradually urbanizing, and living conditions are getting better.
  9. The average housing price in Tianjin in 2017 was ¥26,687 per square meter (around $4,300). However, the average salary in 2017 was only ¥6,733 per month (about $1,100). The huge difference puts a lot of pressure on both urban and rural citizens to afford housing.
  10. Tianjin Binhai New Area was established in 2009. It is Tianjin’s main urban area. It has followed the economic development pattern of Beijing and Shanghai, and now it is the wealthiest district in Tianjin. Its economy is mainly dominated by business and tourism.

Overall, even though Tianjin’s economy looks good on paper, these 10 facts about poverty in Tianjin illustrate the problems that government officials need to focus on. However, as shown above, the government is taking action to solve these problems, and more policies are being enacted to facilitate this process and improve the lives of those in poverty.

– Judy Lu

Photo: Unsplash

most overpopulated citiesAs the population of the world keeps growing, the Earth’s resources are shrinking and being unevenly distributed. This overpopulation leads to a declining ratio of food producers to food consumers.

There are not enough resources or available land for many struggling individuals to survive. Thus, they must flock to urban areas where there is rapid growth in the world economy. In cities, people can specialize in different fields within the industrial and service sectors. However, there are too many people trying to fill these small confines of city life.

As cited on the National Geographic website, “in cities, two of the most pressing problems facing the world today also come together: poverty and environmental degradation.” This is due to the vast degradation of resources in urban settings and the exacerbation of poverty. This is especially prominent in an analysis of the most overpopulated cities in the world.

The Five Most Overpopulated Cities and Their Populations

  1. Sao Paulo, Brazil: 21,297,000
  2. Mumbai, India: 21,357,000
  3. Shanghai, China: 24,484,000
  4. Delhi, India: 26,454,000
  5. Tokyo, Japan: 38,140,000

The most overpopulated cities tend to be in developing countries where poverty is rampant due to this overcrowding. Even in developed countries, the cities listed deal with intense smog and pollution problems that exacerbate health and poverty issues.

In less developed regions, there is a higher death rate for children and adolescents. Unsanitary living conditions threaten survival rates. This is especially evident in urban areas where crowding is so common that slums have grown rapidly.

In order to combat poverty in the most overpopulated cities, education and economic growth are critical. By engaging the government to work with its community, the government will better understand which challenges should be addressed first. Therefore, education, paired with improved living conditions in cities, will help ensure children are surviving into adulthood.

These are the key ingredients to overcoming poverty and environmental pollution in overpopulated urban areas.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in MongoliaThe decrease in the poverty rate in Mongolia is a slowly developing story that is trending in the direction of success. As of 2015 – due to Mongolia not publishing reports detailing its poverty statistics on a regular basis – the country’s poverty rate stood at 22 percent, which marks a decrease from its previous rate of 28 percent.

While this rate is still dramatically too high, it demonstrates that the correct efforts are being taken to decrease the poverty rate in Mongolia and should be studied and replicated in other impoverished countries.

Of the information available regarding the poverty rate in Mongolia, it is even more impressive that the country has managed to reduce its poverty rate in both its urban and, even more so, its rural environments. Urban poverty is typically easier to weed out because urban environments often see the benefits of economic development, which unfortunately take significantly longer to reach rural areas.

In the years 2012 and 2014, rural areas in Mongolia saw their poverty rates fall by nine percent and accounted for half the reduction in poverty during that two-year period. This decrease in poverty can be attributed to the spurt of economic growth that Mongolia has experienced over the past decade. Mainly due to the growth of its mining industry, Mongolia has enjoyed double digit growth rates, significantly helping to generate income for the country’s poor population.

That the Mongolian economy relies on mining, however, may prove to be its downfall and may force the poverty rate in Mongolia to once again take an upward turn. As the demand for coal and copper – Mongolia’s primary mineral resources – continues to fall, it will become imperative to develop a new industry to support the ongoing drop in its poverty rate.

Assisting in the reduction of poverty in Mongolia is the growth of its capital Ulaanbaatar. As it continues to gain significance in Asia and the rest of the world, it will allow for more money to be diverted to poverty reduction efforts and allow more jobs to be created. By creating more jobs in Mongolia’s capital city, people will increasingly be able to save money and eventually climb the economic ladder out of poverty.

– Garrett Keyes

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in AlbaniaAlbania, located on the Mediterranean Sea across from southern Italy, is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Why is Albania poor, though? It is important to discuss not only the causes of poverty in Albania, but also the standards for poverty in Albania.

After World War II, Albania became a communist state under Stalin’s regime, but was not part of the Soviet Union. In 1989, communist rule in Europe collapsed and in 1990, independent political parties in Albania formed. By 1992, the Democratic Party won elections, officially ending communist rule in Albania after 47 years.

Why is Albania poor? The country’s transition from a communist regime to a free market in a democratic republic has disrupted economic growth and has caused high levels of poverty. Most of the poverty in Albania is considered deep, whereby incomes are below minimally acceptable standards, people struggle to meet basic needs such as food, clothing and heating. Albanians face poor public services and inaccessible social services. Many citizens who do not face poverty in terms of income still are threatened by it.

The standards for poverty in rural and urban areas, however, are different based on circumstances. According to estimates from the World Bank as of 2013, 25-30 percent of Albanians in rural areas live in poverty, while about 15 percent of Albanians living in urban areas live in poverty. These statistics are relative to the conditions of the rest of Albania’s rural and urban populations.

The majority of rural families live in the mountains and the uplands. The main determinants of rural poverty are farm size, livestock holding and off-farm income. About 25 percent of the rural population lives on a farm that is too small to provide a sufficient level of subsistence.

Urban poverty has different characteristics than rural poverty. Urban poverty in Albania is concerned with the education level and the employment status of the head of the household, the number of children in a household and the number of dependent generations in a household (if there are grandparents or grandchildren). As more Albanians migrate out of rural areas into urban areas, poverty starts to become concentrated in more rural, mountainous areas.

Albania has made recent strides in poverty reduction. The country’s main production resources — agriculture and construction — have been privatized. The reduction of state involvement is especially important in agriculture, which is now mostly privately owned. Additionally, the liberalization of prices, trade and foreign exchange has helped the economy grow. The World Bank classified Albania as an upper middle-income country as of 2010. The percent of Albanians below the poverty line has decreased dramatically, from 25.4 percent of citizens in 2002 to 14.3 percent in 2012.

In 2009, Albania applied to join the European Union and was confirmed as a candidate in 2014. Albania is not expected to join the EU until 2020, however, as the EU has urged Albania to tackle corruption and organized crime, especially relating to trafficking of humans and drugs.

Though Albania has historically ranked as the poorest country in Europe, poverty in Albania is slowly starting to decrease. Albania’s transition from a post-Cold War economy into a viable EU candidate proves that this country has the potential to transition out of extreme poverty, and may no longer need to provide an answer to the question, “Why is Albania poor?”

Christiana Lano

Photo: Flickr

A New Kind of Poverty due to UrbanizationUrbanization is creating a new face for poverty. People migrate to cities for the convenience of resources, proximity to jobs, and the chance to live amidst affluence. This migration, however, is not the case for those living in poverty that are pushed out of their lands in the countryside and made to urbanize. It could be for numerous reasons: a shift from agricultural to industrial sectors, a way to develop local economies by bringing more workforce into the cities or to occupy the rural lands in order to make space for more economic development.

While the goal of urbanization is to create prosperity, the opposite often occurs. Urban areas, compared to rural areas, are homes to extreme wealth disparities because the poor and wealthy are closer together. This closeness inevitably leads to severe discrimination that can influence social makeups, access to public services, or general treatment of separate economically, racially, or geographically different groups.

Urban conflict more so disrupts dense populations because it poses a greater public risk than previously in rural populations. Targeting populations based on geographical areas is also more difficult in cities where people are more mobile with their residency.

The urban poor experience a different set of challenges, mainly due to higher population densities and consequent unequal access to resources. According to The Guardian, urban hazards include low-quality infrastructure, higher risk of disease infestations, pollutants, toxicity, traffic-related injuries, diet-related illnesses due to street food and lower quality of selection, and sensitivity to poor levels in a poor economy. Hunger and malnutrition are more sensitive to economic well being and price fluctuations. The larger competition also negatively affects the share of people in poverty in urban areas versus in rural areas.

So far, 54 percent of the world lives in urban areas. This grew from a 30 percent rate in 1950. Urbanization is predicted to cause the population to rise to 66 percent in 2050. Asia and Africa will likely experience the sharpest rate increase, as their current populations are mostly rural. Today, the two countries’ urban populations are around 40 to 48 percent, but they may become 56 to 64 percent in 2050.

The global rural population is currently at three point four billion but is expected to decline to two point three billion by 2050. Largely in part of Africa and Asia’s transforming urban population in the years to come since now, they house nearly 90 percent of the world’s rural population.

– Lin Sabones

Sources:, The Guardian UN, UNDESA, UNFPA,
Photo: Flickr

Extreme air pollution in Mongolia continues to place the country among the most polluted in the world, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO’s 2014 report on global air pollution ranks the developing nation the seventh most polluted country on the globe. With a population of only 2.9 million, pollution exposure levels are six to seven times higher than the most lenient WHO numbers. The population shift from rural to urban areas has intensified poor air quality in Ulaanbaatar and made air pollution a main concern for its citizens in recent years.

“Today, children are suffering from many unfamiliar illnesses caused by air pollution,” said Gerelchimeg, a mother living in one of Ulaanbaatar’s low-income districts. “As a mother, I am very worried about my children’s health and my neighbors’ newborns.”

The majority of Ulaanbaatar’s population lives in gers, traditional Mongolian dwellings where the burning of coal and wood for heat significantly contribute to the poor air quality of the city.

The Mongolian government has endorsed efforts to provide smokeless coal, improved stoves, gasification and solar heating to ger families in recent years; however, the challenge to fully implement environmentally-conscious legislation while allowing citizens to maintain their traditional lifestyles remains an issue for government officials.

“Many solutions will require Ulaanbaatar citizens to change technologies and learn how to use them,” said Gailius Draugelis, lead energy specialist at The World Bank. “The local private sector will need to supply and serve these technologies.”

The increase of vehicle use in Ulaanbaatar, from 75,000 to 300,100 between 2005 and 2013, spurred increased promotion of public transportation as well as legislation regarding the disposal of “older” and “too old” vehicles. The Mongolian government has also sought to reduce emissions from three major coal-fueled power plants in the Ulaanbaatar area by regulating the amounts of specific pollutants and endorsing power plant ‘scrubbers’ and other clean energy practices.

Despite governmental efforts to reduce air pollution on a variety of levels, air quality and conditions in Mongolia have improved little. Natural factors, such as geographic location and the topography of the capital city, have also contributed to air pollution and its effects on Mongolian health, including increased rates of non-communicable diseases.

Since 2010, the U.S. foreign aid agency the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has invested in a $41.5 million project to address the causes of air pollution in the poor outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. In only three years, the corporation sold almost 100,000 energy-efficient stoves and 19,000 ger insulation sets at subsidized rates. While green technology is only a temporary solution to the overarching issue of air pollution, the MCC’s contribution to public awareness and green research activity is an investment in the clean Mongolia of tomorrow.

Although air pollution is a major global health challenge in Mongolia and developing countries throughout the world, smart foreign aid gives hope for a cleaner future.

– Paulina Menichiello

Sources: World Bank, Scientific Research, NCBI, IIP Digital
Photo: Rising Voices

On May 28 of this year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization signed an agreement with the World Union of Wholesale Markets designed to reduce food waste and improve food security for the world’s urban poor.

According to the FAO, about one third of food produced for human consumption each year is lost or wasted. It estimates that over 40% of root crops, fruits and vegetables are lost or wasted, along with 35% of fish, 30% of cereals and 20% of meat and dairy products. This figure tallies up to an estimated 1.3 billion tons of food with an economic value of $1 trillion. These losses are quickly becoming concentrated in cities, where over half of the world’s population lives. Moreover, this figure will increase by 2050, as two-thirds of the people on earth are expected to live in cities.

Getting food to the urban poor is a novel challenge. Many low-income families live in “food deserts,” areas where there is no easy access to food, much less fresh food.

Eugenia Serova, head of the FAO’s Agro-Industry Division, said in a press release, “more efficient wholesale markets, and overall urban market outlets, can result in more affordable means to reach the city poor with healthy food.”

According to Ms. Serova, this new agreement is as much about learning how to deal with the future as it is about handling the challenges of the present: “If close to 90 percent of the expected increase in the global urban population in the next two decades will take place in cities in Africa and Asia, it makes much sense to build solid knowledge on how to strengthen urban market systems.”

WUWM has agreed to work with the FAO to tackle these challenges with an eye toward sustainability and inclusiveness.

Donald Darnall, a member of the board of directors of WUWM, said, “Some 60 percent of wholesale markets we’ve surveyed said managing food waste was their number-one challenge for the next five years . . . Our markets are embracing ‘good practices’ to reduce waste and we see this as an opportunity to develop improved waste management strategies and share solutions.”

The two agencies hope to develop a set of better practices for wholesale markets in urban settings. The goal is a more efficient flow of information and a dramatic reduction in food waste and loss. The partnership also hopes to improve producers’ access to markets, make food handling safer and more consistent and eliminate urban food deserts.

WUWM is connected to wholesale marketers in 43 countries, giving it access to an enormous amount of data. With this much data and expertise at their disposal, the FAO and WUWM are well on their way to finding new methods of improving efficiency, ensuring better quality of produce and ultimately cutting waste.

– Marina Middleton

Sources: UN News Centre, World Union of Wholesale Markets Seattle Pi Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN
Photo: Flickr

rural poverty and urban poverty rural poor definition
Poverty is not made up of a cut-and-dry set of circumstances. Rural poverty and urban poverty differ on many levels, with distinctive, environment-based issues that characterize quality of life.

There are similarities, of course, that span both rural and urban poverty. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) states that poverty usually entails deprivation, vulnerability and powerlessness. However, these issues are sometimes inflicted on certain individuals or groups more than others. For example, women and children are more likely to experience poverty more intensely than men and minorities tend to suffer more greatly than other groups.

The IMF reports that 63 percent of the world’s impoverished live in rural areas. Education, health care and sanitation are all lacking in rural environments. This causes many of the rural poor to move to cities, which often leads to a rise in urban poverty.


Compare and Contrast: Rural Poverty and Urban Poverty


The rural poor are divided into further subsets based on profession: typically, cultivators who own land and noncultivators who do not. Cultivators are slightly better off, as they are able to make some money operating farms and charging tenants for using their land. Noncultivators, however, are extremely poor, working as seasonal laborers on farms. Their pay is both low and erratic, as it is based on the schedules of farm owners and the other few employers available. The rural poor often suffer more than the urban poor because public services and charities are not available to them.

Several factors tend to perpetuate rural poverty. For example, political instability and corruption, customs of discrimination, unregulated landlord/tenant arrangements and outdated economic policies often make it impossible for the rural poor to rise above poverty lines.

While generally considered less severe, urban poverty provides the poor with a host of separate issues. The World Bank found that urban populations in developing countries are growing rapidly, at a rate of 70 million new city-dwellers per year. Former residents of rural areas are typically drawn to the city for the perceived wealth of economic opportunities, but often, those dreams fall short.

Compared to rural villages, there are indeed more job opportunities in urban areas. However, many migrants lack the skillset to take on many jobs, and positions for unskilled laborers fill up quickly. This shortage of jobs leaves new residents without a steady income, which creates a series of new problems in the city.

Without an income, the urban poor often find themselves in inadequate housing with poor safety and sanitation. Additionally, health and education packages are limited. Crime and violence are also much more rampant in urban settings than in rural ones, threatening the authority of law enforcement and the peace of mind of city dwellers.

Health is quite variable throughout rural and urban settings. While the rural poor lack access to urban health care programs, they sometimes benefit from the distance between the country and the city. In the close quarters that characterize city living, it is easy for disease to spread.

Additionally, communal resources in cities can actually lead to health problems. According to The Guardian, families usually have their own personal latrine, so if a health problem starts among the family, the latrine can be closed off and the health risk minimized. However, in cities where many people on a daily basis use public restrooms, disease can spread rapidly and tracking down the source can be nearly impossible.

Though rural poverty is currently higher than urban poverty, research shows that soon, urban areas will become home to the majority of impoverished people. The perception of greater opportunity leads the rural poor away from the countryside and into the cities, where they often end up in even further poverty. An overhaul of urban development programs is necessary to combat the issues with sanitation, safety and hunger that propagate urban poverty.

Bridget Tobin

Sources: World Bank, The Guardian, International Monetary Fund
Photo: Brommel