Thursday, October 2, 2008

UN Millennium Goals in Pakistani Village


"We need a hospital," one man said, "and a school for girls. If something could be done about the drinking water, we'd be grateful."

"One day it's diarrhea, the next day it's fever, the next day, vomiting" said a village woman, speaking about her children.

These villagers reluctantly spoke to their feudal prince of Ratrian, a poor village in north of Pakistan, highlighted by TVE and BBC recently. The young prince is Rafeh Malik, the son of the feudal lord Malik Atta Mohammad, whose family's vast land holdings include this village. The prince took the initiative to ask for his villagers' opinions about what needs to be done to improve their lives.

Apparently, Prince Rafeh Malik has been influenced by the United Nations Millennial Development Goals (MDGs) and he wants to try and implement them within his domain. He has taken the initiative by convincing his father that it must be done.

Here's a brief overview of the UN MDGs:

1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2 Achieve universal primary education
3 Promote gender equality and empower women
4 Reduce child mortality
5 Improve maternal health
6 Combat HIV/Aids, malaria, and other diseases
7 Ensure environmental sustainability
8 Develop a global partnership for development

These goals can not be achieved by governments alone. In spite of Pakistani government's efforts and international assistance, Pakistan does not have a lot to show in terms of real progress toward UN MDGs. Ranked at 136 on a list of 177 countries, Pakistan's human development ranking remains very low. Particularly alarming is the low primary school enrollment for girls which stands at about 30% in rural areas, where the majority of Pakistanis live. In fact, the South Asia average of primary school enrollment is pulled down by Pakistan, the only country in all of Asia and the Pacific with the lowest primary enrollment rate of 70 per cent in 2005. This is 12 percentage points lower than that of Maldives, which, at 80 per cent, has the second lowest rate in Asia and the Pacific. However, whereas Pakistan is rapidly reducing the proportion of children out of primary school - the net enrollment rate was just 60 per cent in 2003 - the rate in Maldives actually dropped 18 percentage points between 1999 and 2005.

The government effort is necessary but the real success will require active participation of private Pakistani citizens of all classes in society. People, including young, educated and enlightened feudal princes, need to come together to light candles rather than curse darkness.

The mission that Rafeh Malik has embarked on is an extremely welcome and necessary effort to change the feudal attitudes toward the poor in Pakistan. There are obviously risks and fears associated with any change. But Rafeh Malik's work should be an inspiration to other young men and women of the feudal class in Pakistan. "I am scared," Rafeh told his friend Shehryar Mufti, a Dawn TV journalist, "but I'm willing to take the risk."

Let's hope Rafeh Malik, and others like him, succeed in bringing about peaceful and positive changes in Pakistani feudal-tribal society that will ultimately benefit all Pakistanis, including the villagers, the middle class and the feudal and tribal chiefs. It has been shown in many developed nations that peaceful transitions from traditional feudal societies to modern democratic, successful, industrialized societies have brought wealth, peace and prosperity for all. The children of the feudal lords in Europe benefited from better education and lucrative business investments to remain rich and powerful, without keeping their people impoverished and illiterate. The transitions were clearly win-win situations for both the rulers and the ruled. The alternatives to peaceful transitions will be far worse for the big zamindars and sardars in Pakistan. Resistance to change by of the feudal-tribal leaders will prove dangerous and futile over the long run.

Related Links:

Light a Candle, Do Not Curse Darkness

BBC News

Lifeline

United Nations Report on School Enrollment

Volunteerism in Pakistan

9 comments:

huntingnasrallah said...

I have read your South Asia Investor Blog off and on for a few months, but this blog is off the charts. Great Work. "Haq's Musings" is one of the most informative sites I have found, recently. It has a down to Earth, straight forward and clean feel to it. Thank you for all of your hard work, it is appreciated.

Gary H. Johnson, Jr.

Sobia Nosheen Saleh said...

Quite Informative.

I was reading some stuff on the NGO by-laws. I'm registering an NGO, and needed some reading on the by-laws. So the search brought me here. Some good reading.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters report on feudal excesses and case for land reform in Pakistan:

Dotted around Pakistan are vast estates run by feudal landlords who command enormous economic and political power, condemning their tenants to poverty, reform activists charge.

On some of these estates, debt bondage has forced 1.8 million people to work the land for no pay, generation after generation, according to the campaigning group Anti-Slavery International. On others, sharecropping systems are practised, under which landless tenants hand over between two-thirds and half of the crops they produce to the landowner.

Unlike other countries in the region, including India, Pakistan did not carry out land reforms after 1947, and attempts in the 1950s and 1970s to reduce the size of land holdings had limited impact.

"Land reform has not taken place because the lawmakers in many cases themselves have large land holdings and will never want to transfer ownership to tenants. There will be no land reform until [the] people are in control of governance," Mubashir Hasan, a former finance minister and social activist, told IRIN.

About 2 percent of households control more than 45 percent of the land area. Powerful farmers have also taken advantage of government subsidies in water and agriculture, and benefited from technological improvements which have boosted yields, according to the World Bank.

By 1977 the biggest estates had only surrendered about 520,000 hectares, and nearly 285,000 hectares had been redistributed among some 71,000 farmers. Around 3,529 landowners have 513,114 holdings of more than 40.5 hectares in irrigated areas, and 332,273 holdings of more than 40.5 hectares in non-irrigated areas, according to the government's annual Economic Survey.

"We manage to earn a little for ourselves by selling the surplus corn and wheat that we take from the land. It is hard work, but despite this we have not been able to escape poverty. None of my four sons is educated beyond the eighth grade. We needed their labour on the land," said Kareem Muhammad, a landless tenant on a farm near the town of Okara, about 110km south of Lahore.

In Punjab, both sharecropping and fixed-rent contracts - where a rent per acre farmed is paid to the landowner by tenants - are practised. In Sindh, about one third of the land falls under fixed-rent contracts and about two thirds of the land is sharecropped, government surveys show.

The sense of injustice created by the continued hold of feudal landlords and the poverty this gives rise to has been a key factor in rising social discontent - aided and abetted by militant groups.

"I am a landless farmer. Last year my teenage son was persuaded by members of an organization engaged in jihad [holy war] to come away with them. They told him it is better to wield a gun and learn to use it than eke out a miserable existence tilling land," Riazuddin Ahmed, from Vehari in southern Punjab, told IRIN.

"My son is only 17. He saw no hope ahead of him, and therefore went away with these people. His mother and I are distraught. But we believe he has gone to the northern areas and we have no means of finding him," he said.

Former finance minister Hassan blamed this on oppression and misery. "Today, governance has collapsed. Extremism has grown and weapons have proliferated," he said.

Farming contributes 21 percent to gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 44 percent of the workforce, according to the government's annual Economic Survey. Of the total land area of 80.4 million hectares, about 22 million are cultivated, according to official data. Nearly 65 percent of this cultivated area is in Punjab, about 25 percent in Sindh and 10 percent in the North West Frontier Province and Balochistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the transcript of an NPR report on feudal power in Pakistan and how it enslaves people on the large feudal estates in Punjab:

LAURA LYNCH: The midday sun throws a harsh spotlight on weathered faces. Women crouch low, searching for, then plucking out barely ripe tomatoes. Every crease and crevice in their feet, their hands, even on their faces is dusted with dirt from the fields they farm. They work from dawn to dusk - and the landowner gets most of the income. Nearly two thirds of Pakistan's rural population are sharecroppers. One of the male workers, Abdul Aziz, says they all owe their livelihood to their boss - so they support the political party he supports. He has always voted for the Pakistan People's Party he says; the party of the late Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto and other wealthy landowners like her had always been able to count on the loyalty of those who toil for them in the fields. At her gracious home in Islamabad, Syma Khar traces her lineage - both familial and political - through the photographs she keeps in the cupboard.

LYNCH: Khar is a member of the provincial assembly of the Punjab - the largest province in Pakistan. She is also a member of one of Pakistan's most powerful families. The pictures are from the Khar family estate just outside the city of Multan. The sprawling property includes fisheries, mango orchards and sugarcane fields. Thousands of people work there - most are loyal to their masters. Syma's husband, his father, brothers, nieces and nephews have all turned that to their political advantage to gain office. The workers are by and large, poor, landless and uneducated. Pervez Iqbal Cheema of Pakistan's National Defence University says that's the way most feudals want to keep it.

PERVEZ IQBAL CHEEMA: A feudal, in order to maintain his influence, will be probably not very happy for extension of education or health facilities because as long as they have a minimum interaction with the outsiders then the chances of new ideas germinating or causing some trouble are relatively less.

................
LYNCH: That star power was evident when Benazir Bhutto staged her return from exile in Karachi in October of 2007. Though it was later marred by a suicide bomb attack, the Bhutto power base in rural Pakistan bussed thousands of loyal followers in to cheer her arrival and dance in the streets. Even after she died, Bhutto's political machine ensured her husband eventually became President. And her son, Bilawal, inherited the party leadership even though he's only 20 with no political experience. In a back alley off a busy road in Rawalpindi, boys are just starting a late afternoon game of cricket. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, rights activist and professor of colonial history at Lahore University of Management Sciences, keeps an office a few floors up. Akhtar sees the staying power of the feudals - and gives credit to the military. It is Pakistan's other power centre - staging four coups in the country's 62 year history. Akhtar says the military, interested in holding onto its own sphere of influence, finds a willing partner in the feudal class.
.........
KHAR: If they don't' keep that attitude then people will be doing daytime robberies because they are illiterate people. They will, you know, kidnap the daughters they will take away the children they will take away the properties, they will kill each other. So a boss has to be a boss. He has to have that sort of attitude.
.............
LYNCH: As a farm worker empties her bucket of tomatoes into a crate there is no smile of satisfaction - the day's work is still far from over. There's little chance her life will change soon. Several land reform programs have failed to change rural life in Pakistan. And failed to loosen the grip of Pakistan's large landowners on the country's politics.

Riaz Haq said...

More people in India, the world’s second most crowded country, have access to a mobile telephone than to a toilet, according to a set of recommendations released today by United Nations University (UNU) on how to cut the number of people with inadequate sanitation.

“It is a tragic irony to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet,” said Zafar Adeel, Director of United Nations University's Institute for Water, Environment and Health (IWEH), and chair of UN-Water, a coordinating body for water-related work at 27 UN agencies and their partners.

India has some 545 million cell phones, enough to serve about 45 per cent of the population, but only about 366 million people or 31 per cent of the population had access to improved sanitation in 2008.

The recommendations released today are meant to accelerate the pace towards reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on halving the proportion of people without access to safe water and basic sanitation.

If current global trends continue, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) predict there will be a shortfall of 1 billion persons from that sanitation goal by the target date of 2015.

“Anyone who shirks the topic as repugnant, minimizes it as undignified, or considers unworthy those in need should let others take over for the sake of 1.5 million children and countless others killed each year by contaminated water and unhealthy sanitation,” said Mr. Adeel.

Included in the nine recommendations are the suggestions to adjust the MDG target from a 50 per cent improvement by 2015 to 100 per cent coverage by 2025; and to reassign official development assistance equal to 0.002 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to sanitation.

The UNU report cites a rough cost of $300 to build a toilet, including labour, materials and advice.

“The world can expect, however, a return of between $3 and $34 for every dollar spent on sanitation, realized through reduced poverty and health costs and higher productivity – an economic and humanitarian opportunity of historic proportions,” added Mr. Adeel.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34369&Cr=mdg&Cr1#

http://finalizations.com/sewage-water-pollution-and-its-environmental-effects.html

khan sahab khunda. said...

all right its fine but impossible.those poors are working as work force for that family.

Riaz Haq said...

Poverty is one of the factors that drives child marriages in India. It's cheaper to marry off a girl child than an adult woman.

A recent ODI report highlighting India's progress toward MDGs and putting India in the top 20.

Looking at the detailed report, however, it clearly highlights Pakistan along with China in the top 10 in achieving poverty reduction goal MDG1, the most important of MDGs. There is no mention of India on this list in table 4.

http://www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/4908.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in Pakistan's "the News" about Pakistan lagging in achieving MDG goals:

The report, titled “MDGs report 2010”, launched by Planning Commission reveals that the country was lagging behind or moving slow on 25 most crucial targets out of total 33 for gauging performance on social sectors such as eradication of poverty, literacy, mortality rates and safe drinking water etc for achieving MDGs targets till 2015 envisaged under United Nations umbrella. Pakistan is ahead on six indicators while it is on track on two. The country is off the track on infant mortality-rate indicator. Pakistan is going to present the MDG report 2010 before the special session of UN next week.

“Pakistan faces numerous challenges and is unlikely to achieve MDGs targets,” says the report launched here at the Planning Commission’s Auditorium on Friday afternoon in the presence of deputy chairman Planning Commission Dr Nadeem Ul Haq, United Nations resident coordinator Onder Yucer and UNDP’s country head in Pakistan.

The report was prepared and launched after a gap of four years by Centre for Poverty Reduction and Social Policy Development (CPRSPD), a joint venture of the Planning Commission and the UNDP but it did not incorporate the latest available poverty figures of 17.2 per cent on the basis of survey done in 2007-08 that was also validated by the World Bank. However, the report has used the poverty figure of 22.3 per cent on the basis of survey done in 2005-06.

Speaking on the occasion, the resident coordinator of UN said that Pakistan lost achievements of last one decade in the wake of recent flood.

But Dr Nadeem Ul Haq was of the view that the failure of public service delivery and unsustainable growth were the main reasons for missing the MDGs targets. He said there was need to bring desired structural changes in the social service delivery as the old paradigm has failed to deliver in the last six decades.

The MDGs report 2010 says that militancy, political instability in 2007-08 and transition from a military-led regime to a democratically elected government caused severe disruptions in economic and social development.

“Furthermore, the most recent catastrophic flood has affected approximately more than 12 million people, ravaged different rural and urban areas and caused immense damage to the infrastructure and agriculture of the country. This will adversely impact the overall economy and achievement of many of MDGs over the next few years.”

On MDGs target to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, Pakistan is lagging behind on proportion of population living below the poverty line and the situation had worsened since 2006.

Pakistan also lags behind on prevalence of underweight children under 5 years of age and proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption.

On net primary enrolment ratio, Pakistan was lagging behind at 57 per cent by 2008-09 against the MDGs envisaged target of 100 per cent by 2015. The country is far behind in terms of literacy rate on completion of grade 1 to 5.

For promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, Pakistan’s progress on Gender Parity Index (GPI) for primary and secondary education was slow while progress on youth literacy GPI has also fallen.

Pakistan is ahead on proportion of seats held by women in Parliament.

On MDGs targets of reducing child mortality, Pakistan lags behind in under five-year age group mortality rate, off-track on infant mortality rate, far behind on fully immunized children aged between 12 to 23 months and other indicators.

On improving maternal health target, the country is lagging behind in terms of maternal mortality rate, proportion of birth attended by skilled birth attendants, contraceptive prevalence rate and total fertility rate related indicators.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report indicating India has failed to make significant progress in MDGs:

PTI | 09:09 PM,Sep 16,2010
D Ravi Kanth Geneva, Sept 16 (PTI) India has performed poorly in meeting the Millennium Development Goals despite sustained growth, with high levels of maternal and child mortality rates amidst very low public spending on health, analysts have said ahead of next week's UN summit on MDGs in New York.India is not going to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- sharp reduction in extreme poverty and hunger, improvement in maternal health, reducing child mortality, and HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases by 2015.The MDGs are both global and local, tailored by each country to suit specific development needs and they were adopted by world leaders in the year 2000.The deadline for achieving MDGs is 2015 and leaders when they congregate in New York will discuss the overall progress and what steps to take during the next five years.A new report- 'Trends in Maternal Mortality:1990-2008' prepared by the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UNFPA, and The World Bank suggests that India continues to have high maternal mortality as well as child mortality.The report says around 1,000 women die every day due to complications during pregnancy and child birth in the world. The risk of a woman in a developing country dying from a pregnancy-related cause during her lifetime is about 36 times higher as compared to a woman living in a developed countries.Though the maternal mortality (MMR) rate has dropped by 34 per cent from an estimated 5,46,000 in 1990 to 3,58,000 in 2008, it continues to be a major problem in India with the highest maternal deaths occurring due to severe bleeding after childbirth, infections, hypertensive disorders and unsafe abortion."To achieve our global goal of improving maternal health and to save women's lives we need to do more to reach those who are most at risk," says Anthony Lake, UNICEF's executive director."India has low investment around 3 per cent in health" as compared to many African countries, which had decided to scale up investments for health to about 15 per cent of GDP, says Michel Kazatchkine, the Global Fund's executive director.Kazatchkine, who visited India recently, told reporters that India has to increase its outlay for the health sector adding that the government is responsive to the needs in health and other social sectors.The Global Funds has provided about USD 1.1 billion to address HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.Though India makes an annual contribution of USD 10 million to The Global Fund, it managed to be one of its highest recipients.The Global Fund chief said he made a special appeal to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to increase India's contribution in line with its economic growth and change. PTI DRK