Civil Sector- A Neglected Contributory To Poverty Reduction. By Mohammed Akmal Pasha


In the face of persistently degenerating macroeconomic indicators, certainly indicative of public malstrategization and private self-absorption, the plight of the layman necessitates invigorated co-functionality of the third sector; the civil society.
About our plight, according to the ‘Swiss agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)’s Country Programme 1999-2005’ the poor in Pakistan (1995) as regards calorie intake were 20 %, basic needs 27 %, income poverty 30 %, POPI (Poverty of Opportunities Index) 44 % and HPI (Human Poverty Index) were 48 %. POPI in fact is a composite of deprivations in three vital dimensions; health, education and income, which is further conceived to redress main deficiency of HPI. HPI on the other hand, is a social indictor excluding the dimension of income. From 1970 to 1995, the rate of falling poverty of education opportunities remained minimum (from 77 to 58 %), other poverty indicators concerning health opportunities (from 55 to 30 %), income opportunities (from 40 to 30 %) and POPI (from 61 to 44 %).
Interestingly shocking, out of SDC’s ten parameters for a “good” developing country (1994-2000), Pakistan meets two. One inflation equal to 10 % in 2000 and the other current account balance as percentage of GDP equaling -3 again in 2000. One of the most drastic figures is net present value (NPV) of external debt measured against GDP which equals 374 %, compared with the “good” developing country’s 100-150 %, simply from 2.493 to 3.74 times greater. Foreign aid in 1995 equaled US $16.23 per capita and dependence upon foreign aid equaled 1.44 % for Pakistan, while the average of developing countries was 0.9 % and India’s equaled 0.6 %. So our dependence vis-à-vis India is 2.4 times greater.
Only five countries are more populated than Pakistan in the whole world. Though our population growth rate declined from 3 to 2.2 per cent during the last decade; still we have one of the highest fertility rates in Asia (4.8). The awareness about at least one method of family planning is though 97 %, but contraceptic prevalence rate is just 28 %. Our male population of 77.38 million is 108 % of the female population. On the average, poor have almost five household members less than 18 years of age, while non-poor have three; this signifies load on the household budget. Again, more than one third of the poor households are dependent upon an ‘aged’ one; who is further dependent upon transfer incomes such as pension or other social support. The 37 % of our population has to bear with unclean drinking water, whereas 61 % doesn’t have proper sanitation facility.
While 76 % of the poor households live without toilets, the non-poor equal 53 %. More than one-third of pregnant females are under nourished, who give birth to underweight babies (25 % of all live births) and these babies are again ten times more likely to die compared with normal babies. According to SDC (1999-2005), in Pakistan 40 % of the total children under-5 are malnourished. This reflects gross poverty and let’s proceed further. Consistent to continuous increase in poverty in the last decade, poverty increased from 30.6 per cent in 1998-99 to 32.1 per cent in 2000-01 with ‘vulnerable’ and ‘transitory poor’ equaling 72.7 per cent, of which 20.1 per cent are below the poverty line and the other 52.6 per cent lie marginally above it. As per human development index (HDI) Pakistan ranked at 132 in 1993, at 138 in 1995 and has now deteriorated to 144.
Now of literacy rate which is 45 % and criteria to embrace maximum number is known to all. Our literate household heads equal 27 % in poor and 52 % in non poor households. Nevertheless, the budget allocations do materialize in ameliorations, but the sheer 1.3 per cent expenditure on education, 0.8 per cent on health and 0.9 per cent on social security collectively equaling one-sixth of defence spending (18 per cent) and one-twelfth of debt repayments (35 per cent) can materialize in a likewise impact which is flagrant. Pakistan is among 12 macabre countries that spend under 2 % of their GDP on education. According to SDC our defence expenditures as percentage of GDP are 154 % of the average defence spending of the sampled developing countries.
Pakistan has approximately 48,344 villages and approximately 5,000 rural health centres that is one health centre for massive 9.67 villages or for 28,960 people on the average. Where, perennially health, high incidence of low weight babies and maternal mortality and communicable diseases like malaria and tuberculosis continue to be potential threats. To combat, the consolidated health expenditures were recently increased from Rs 13 billion in 1995-96 to Rs 17 billion in 2000-01, still as a percentage of GDP, they went down from 0.63 % to 0.50 %, then again rose to 0.6 % and finally now they are planned to be raised to massive 1 % !!
The labor force participation profile is also pathetic. The employment rate has not been proportionate between 1993 and 1999. In 1993, 32.45 million people were employed; by 1999 this number went up to 38.59 million which shows only 3 % average annual increase. In other words, the unemployment rate has increased from 4.73 per cent in 1993 to 6.10 per cent in 1999, urban unemployment rate yet being higher than the rural one. These official statistics still not include the unregistered unemployment and under-employment which is estimated to be anywhere between 10 to 20 per cent. Out of total labor force, about 67 per cent works in the rural areas, and only 12 per cent are women, hence the gender gap.
Substantiated by the shrinking strides on the part of one sector and self-indulgence on the other, the social development whatever visible ought to be owed also to the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs); the third sector. Nevertheless, the indeterminate question of contribution and attribution may render one relatively indecisive and thrilled. According to SDC, among top seven major potentials in Pakistan one is “emerging civil society organizations, leading to a new task allocation between civil and government institutions” this insinuates need for strengthening CSOs and also PPP- the concept of Public Private Partnership.
Lester M Salamon and S Wojciech Sokolowski in their book ‘Global Civil Society’ (vol 2) state that Pakistan stands last in a sample of 34 countries. The scoring is based on Johns Hopkins’ Global Civil Society Index (GCSI) taking three dimensions as capacity, sustainability and impact. The highest scores go to Netherlands (74), Norway (65) and USA (61). With UK at 5th, France at 10th, Germany at 12th, Japan at 19th, Pakistan is at 34th the last, while India is still at 29th.
Lester and Sokolowski highlight some of the main features of the Pakistani civil society. According to them, it accounted for $ 212.3 million in 2000 which equals 0.3 % of GDP. On employment side, it employs almost half million full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, which again equals 1.1 % of our economically active population (EAP), 4.1 % of nonagricultural and 18 % of public employment. Comparatively, this CSO workforce (1.1 %) as a share of EAP is half as large as the average of all sampled developing and transitional countries (1.9 %). Whereas, the FTE volunteer workforce is 0.4 % of EAP; it is one-fourth of the average of the sample. However, this is heartening that the service share of the CSOs in Pakistan (83 %) is above the sample average. The ‘service role’ includes education, social services, health, housing and development, where the greatest chunk goes to the education sector (57 %). The other extension is called ‘expressive role’ which encompasses culture, recreation, advocacy and environment etc. This area engages only 17 % against the comparable sample average of 32 %. On the revenue side, 51 % comes from fees, 43 % from philanthropy whereas the government support accounts for only 6 %. The most startling point is that the philanthropic share is 43 %; which is 3.583 times greater than the sample average (12 %) and this is the strength we need to capitalize upon.
Thus, in the wake of CSOs’ widespread development endeavours which encompass each possible area of social uplift, the importance of strengthening civil society and fostering PPP can never be overemphasized. Contrary to Milton Friedman’s conviction that firms should not give, corporations’ giving is also ripe and plenty in our country and contributes substantially to the overall pool of philanthropy. However, the onus lies on the stakeholders to make best out of this enormity; but first comes believing in the existence of this enormity. ‘They are ill-discoverers that think there is no land when they see nothing but sea’. (Francis Bacon)

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