Pakistan’s progress on the SDGs | Political economics


In line with its Vision 2025, Pakistan has developed plans aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to place itself in the league of upper middle income countries. Progress on the ground to date is not encouraging.

In 2021, Pakistan was ranked 153rd in the Global Gender Gap Index. In 2020, it was ranked 154th on the Human Development Index, with 38% of its population living in multidimensional poverty.

Thus, after a full year, Pakistan’s ranking has only improved by one notch. Keeping the lofty goal in mind, that’s just enough. Population growth is one of the biggest challenges facing Pakistan. This hinders the development process and will remain a problem for the projected future.

Apart from population growth, political instability, frequent natural disasters, unstable law and order situation, lack of awareness and tolerance, and certain cultural norms and taboos are some of the factors hindering the progress of the country. We are still far behind in achieving the SDGs. Pakistan has developed policies and frameworks, but their implementation has fallen short.

The Government of Pakistan is working on the SDGs through its Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives.

There are several issues. According to the 2021 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Index rankings, Pakistan ranked 129th out of 165 countries, with an overall score of 57.7%, mainly for its progress on one of the 17 goals – climate action.

The country has seen moderate improvements in the goals of poverty, health and well-being, water and sanitation, decent work, peace and justice, and partnership, but it has made no progress on zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, clean energy, innovation, sustainable cities and communities. He backtracked on life underwater.

According to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), the main contributors to multidimensional poverty in Pakistan are years of schooling (29.7%), followed by access to health facilities (19.8%) and attendance school children (10.5%). Education deprivation is the main contributor to the MPI (42.8%), followed by standard of living (31.5%) and health (25.7%).

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution promised free and compulsory education for all ages 5-16 as a basic right under Section 25A. Its implementation has been slow.

With 2.2 million children out of school, how can the objective be achieved in the absence of appropriate budgetary allocations and weak means of monitoring?

Several studies have highlighted the dangerous impact of political instability on foreign direct investment, which pushes the country further into poverty and away from achieving the SDGs.

The Covid-19 pandemic has directly affected 42 million children from pre-primary and primary to upper secondary and university level. Mobility constraints, non-availability of internet, lack of access to distance learning facilities have had a negative impact on the most vulnerable groups.

SDG 3: Good health and well-being

Even before Covid-19, Pakistan had a weak healthcare system with insufficient facilities to meet the needs of its growing population. There is on average one hospital bed available for more than 1,680 people.

Some of the dimensions of the health sector are closely linked to education and awareness. The relatively high levels of maternal mortality rate, infant mortality rate, low nutritional status and disparities in immunization rates are linked to women’s social status and education. These factors should be kept in mind when developing policies and implementation plans.

Pakistan has a thriving private health sector. Due to high levels of poverty and illiteracy, frequent natural disasters and a tense security situation, people face challenges in accessing good quality and equitable health services.

Another big issue is the cost of good medical facilities. Private facilities are often too expensive for the common man to benefit from quality health facilities.

Governments have launched health care initiatives. These include health cards, a national health insurance scheme, but the quality and accessibility of facilities is far from uniform.

Objective 6: Drinking water and sanitation

Safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires investments in adequate infrastructure.

Immediate action must be taken to provide safe and affordable drinking water, to end open defecation, to improve water quality by reducing water pollution, to reduce the proportion of sewage untreated, implement integrated water resources management and seek support from international organizations on water and sanitation. .

The development scenario has been seriously compromised by the political instability in the country. Pakistan is caught in a vicious circle where an unstable political environment leads to uncertainty. In turn, this uncertainty reduces business investment and ongoing development projects. For example, with the recent political turmoil and change of government, many development projects initiated by the previous government are at risk of being suspended or cancelled.

The Ehsaas social protection program was resumed immediately.

Some hospitals have reportedly recently refused to accept patients wishing to use their rights to the Sehat Insaf card.

Several studies have highlighted the impact of political instability on foreign direct investment, which pushes the country deeper into poverty and away from achieving the SDGs.

Under current circumstances, the dream of placing Pakistan in the league of upper middle income countries by 2025 is unlikely to materialize. Progress on the SDGs should be monitored by an autonomous body made up of international donors, NGOs, government officials, universities, media and policy researchers.

Learning from global best practices through effective networking initiatives is of utmost importance.

Lack of awareness is one of the main factors hindering development. The media can be used to raise awareness and spur action.

The writer is the founder of Digital Time Communications

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