Pakistan will be missing most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with slow economic growth and increasing income inequality in the country.
According to UN annual MDG report for 2012, besides slow economic growth of around 3% for the last 3-4 years, the income inequality in the country has been on rise, whereby share of lowest quintile in consumption is only 9.6% against 40.3% for the highest quintile - a startling disparity.
The labour force is increasing at a rate of 3.2%. The current slow economic growth is not creating sufficient jobs for the new entrants to the labour market hence adding to the pool of unemployed population.
Internationally, eight major MDGs were identified and every country had set some specific targets to achieve them by 2015.
MDGs included: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; gender equality and women empowerment; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
Pakistan had adopted 18 targets and 41 indicators against which progress was measured. However, the UN annual report said data against only 33 indicators was available. Of the total 33 indicators, progress on 20 indicators is lagging behind, slow on four, on track for three, off track for one, while targets against five indicators have been met.
Pakistan has achieved the targets for access to improved water source, environmental sustainability goal through number of vehicles using environment friendly CNG fuel, and it is likely to achieve the target for controlling HIV prevalence among youth and proportion of children suffering from diarrhoea. It already has highest ratio of women parliamentarians in the South Asia.
The three indicators where the progress is on track and the target could be met by 2015 include land protected for conservation of wildlife, proportion of tuberculosis (TB) cases detected and cured, coverage of target population for lady health workers.
The four indicators where there is progress, but on slower pace, are gender equality, women empowerment, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
There are a number of indicators where progress has been lagging behind and it is most likely that targets will not be achieved. One of these indicators is the proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption. This is core indicator for assessing the level of food insecurity in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2012.