Pakistan’s underperformance in achieving MDGs

The results indicate that Pakistan is lagging behind its commitments with respect to almost all the MDG indicators.

Syed Mohammad Ali September 26, 2013
The writer is a development consultant and a PhD student at the University of Melbourne [email protected]

Since the past two decades, the need to place people rather than economic growth at the centre of national and international development efforts has gained wide acknowledgement. Pakistan is also among the 189 nation states which endorsed a UN backed declaration back in 2000, aiming to focus on eight basic goals to help improve the lives of poor people around the world, by 2015. However, two years before the deadline set for accomplishing these Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the ground realities in many developing countries, including Pakistan, are not very encouraging.

The Commonwealth Foundation has recently reviewed progress made in terms of achieving MDG targets across several countries. A report was also prepared for Pakistan based on analysis of several secondary sources including government, UN and other international agencies’ assessments as well as consultations with major NGOs. The results indicate that Pakistan is lagging behind its commitments with respect to almost all the MDG indicators.

Pakistan’s progress on poverty alleviation remains dismal after some initial progress at the beginning of the past decade. Food inflation is particularly reversing steps taken to eradicate poverty. Ineffective targeting and design flaws within major social welfare schemes have limited impact in terms of helping poor households survive, much less overcome their deprivation.

While literacy rates have increased since 2000, they have not done so sufficiently to achieve the MDG target (88 per cent) by 2015. Similarly, Pakistan is still a long way off from ensuring that all girls and boys in the country, at least, complete primary schooling. The task of achieving gender parity within primary and secondary education has also not shown significant progress.

Progress, in terms of health related indicators, also remains lacklustre. While maternal and child (under five years) mortality rates have declined, the progress made is not sufficient. Pakistan also severely lags behind in providing clean drinking water and sanitation to its citizens. Our government representatives readily sign onto international declarations. They have pledged to protect children, safeguard women’s rights and to ensure a range of other human rights. Showing the required political will to fulfill these commitments, however, remains problematic. The experience pertaining to accomplishing the MDGs is no different.

The internal security situation and a spate of natural disasters are repeatedly quoted by officials to explain the disappointing progress. However, the varied failures in terms of responding to the MDG related challenges are less readily acknowledged.

Conversely, the UN’s articulation of MDGs had also implied that the onus of alleviating global deprivations was not only the responsibility of developing countries, but also of the numerous multilateral agencies mandated to work on development issues. The international community’s failure to offer adequate support must also be highlighted while assessing the failure of achieving MDG targets in Pakistan. Moreover, the global food and fuel price shocks and the global financial crisis, have also combined to undermine MDG progress across much of the developing world.

If the experience of Pakistan is anything to go by, rhetorical assertions of international cooperation and pledges of national resolve will remain insufficient to achieve grandiose objectives such as the MDGs.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th,  2013.

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np | 8 years ago | Reply "The international community’s failure to offer adequate support must also be highlighted while assessing the failure of achieving MDG targets in Pakistan. " International community is not accountable for any given country meeting its MDG. Why do you think you are entitled to receive help from others instead of pulling up your own socks?
Darjat | 8 years ago | Reply

A very good piece of article. In our part of the world, people at the polciy needs to be educated. In Pakistan there is trmendious potential and willingness among majority disadvantaged people to improve their well being. But they need to be organized by support organizations and we have live examples of community partnerships and its acheivements. RSPs in Pakistan are best example of that support organzations, which fosters local level organizations ( COS, VOs, CBOs. LSOs etc) and established partnership with communites to remove constrains which people face.

I red an article reflected in Guardain about Shoaib Sultan Khan, and that says how one man's vision pulled out 30 million people out of poverty. The article further says the approach is being replicated in other countires including India. Pakistan needs to provide funding to local level organizations, if is serious to acheive the objectives of MDGs in a short span of time and the delivery cost of the programs will also be much lower than the conventional approach!

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