Poverty and unemployment in resource-rich Sindh are, among others, key causes of rising crimes and bad law and order situation. Energy crisis like in other parts of the country has battered severely economic development in the province and put the wheel of economic activity in reverse gear.
There is, however, pressing need to launch programmes that will generate new employments, particularly in rural Sindh, where socio-economic indicators paint a gloomy picture.
Development experts say that while state of poverty and unemployment continue to aggravate alarmingly in Sindh, livelihood uplift programmes at all levels can help alleviate poverty as well as generate new employments to improve people’s socio-economic lives. Such livelihood programmes will have, surely, feel-good effects on socio-economic indicators and help improve law and order as well as crime situation in the province.
They also point out that rising food prices, poor health facilities, rise in water-borne diseases caused by contaminated drinking water and bad sanitation, slowed economic activities, bad lad and order situation, among other factors, have aggravated the state of poverty in the resource-rich Sindh.
Inadequate access to health and education facilities, safe drinking water and sanitation and consequent rise in water-borne diseases have contributed to deepen poverty and living standards of the people in different parts of the province, the speakers highlighted.
Such views were expressed at “Enhance Livelihood, Reduce Poverty” programme launched in third week of January 2012 in the poverty-hit Thatta district’s Mehar union council of the Ghorabari taluka by the Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE).
Riaz Hussain Sherazi, noted political leader and son of Sindh Assembly member Ijaz hussain Sherazi, said that such livelihood development programmes in Sindh’s poverty-hit districts are need of the hour to fight poverty, unemployment and crime.
“Livelihood enhancing initiatives at all levels are much needed to help poor people of the province improve their socio-economic conditions. Poverty is major cause of bad health and education facilities in most of the province and; thus, improvement in livelihood will be of great help for the poor people means improvement in health and education profile of the people,” he said.
Riaz Hussain Sherazi remarked that provincial government welcomes such initiatives of local NGOS as being taken by the SCOPE for fighting poverty and livelihood enhancement.
“The activity was the first largest meeting of its kind in the southern coastal belt of Pakistan and it delivered assets to most deprived families of the area to help them enhance their livelihood opportunities and alleviate poverty at their end, said Mahjabeen Khan, programme cooardinator of SCOPE.
The PPAF representative, Mr. Basharat Khan, told the participants that PPAF’s Livelihood Enhancement and Protection (LEP) Programme has the total outlay of Rs6.4 billion, with outreach in 31 districts of Pakistan and South Waziristan Agency.
PPAF has 26 partners in LEP and so far 11,815 individuals have benefitted from this intervention he said.
Basharat also said that cumulative disbursements of PPAF (both lending and grant based), since April 2000, stand at over US $1,000 million of which financing for microfinance had the largest share (US $600 million). It has partnered with 106 organizations working in over 89,300 villages/settlements with more than 302,000 communities and self-help groups at grassroots level in 129 districts.
He also shared that PPAF’s cumulative operational activities entailed over 4.8 million microcredit loans impacting directly or indirectly 33.7 million (with 100 per cent recovery rate), over 25,800 educational, health, water and infrastructure projects impacting 17.1 million and over 467,500 trained individuals (POs staff and communities).
While addressing the public gathering in Mehar UC, Chief Executive Officer of Scope and renowned environmentalists, Tanveer Arif, said that poverty is a great misfortune and it could be managed through tangible civil society livelihood programmes.
“Most people of coastal areas of Sindh are unfortunate as they suffer abject poverty due to degradation of natural resources, destruction of infrastructure and onslaught of climate change caused natural disasters,” he pointed out.
Tanveer Arif said further that the SCOPE’s project on the ‘Livelihood Enhancement’ in Thatta is one of its poverty alleviation initiatives, which is being supported by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Foundation (PPAF).
SCOPE, under LEP project, has planned to distribute assets among poor to enable them to earn livelihood, he said and added: “An extensive survey has been carried out with the help of a Local Support Organization (LSO), and recipients of assets have been identified through poverty score card and identified ultra poor and vulnerable.”