ISLAMABAD:- (Eshfak Mughal) Pakistan has made significant improvement in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including reduction in poverty, child mortality and stunting, increasing food security, heath facilities and daily earning. The country has also witnessed the issues related to growth in unemployment and reducing in ratio of the completion of primary schools etc.     

This was revealed in the “Pakistan SDGs status report 2021”, compiled by the Ministry of Planning and Development.

According to the report, the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line was declined by 7.6 percent from 29.5 percent in 2013-14 to 21.9 percent in 2018-19. In this way, during the five years in 2014-2019, 9.3 million people were lifted out of poverty.

There is a noticeable improvement in indicator of the proportion of the population living in households with access to basic services including drinking water, access to sanitation, electricity and clean fuel, the report says.

Generally, the government spending on education, health and social protection has stagnated around 24% over the last five years between 2014-15 and 2019-20 at the national level. Only in the Sindh province, there has been a higher increase of 8% in the total spending on essential services as compared to Punjab, KP and Balochistan where there have been marginal or no increase in the spending on essential services between 2014-15 and 2019-20, according to the report.

The report says that the unemployment rate was increased by 1 percent to 6.9 percent in the period 2015-19. Females’ unemployment rate was almost double (10percent) to their male counterparts (5.9 percent) in 2018-19

The economy experienced a slow-down and the annual growth rate of real GDP per capita declined to -3.36% in the fiscal year 2019-20 from 2.04% in 2014-15, according to the report.

The average hourly earnings at the national level increased to PKR 109 from PKR 76 during 2015-19. In the same period, urban areas experienced relatively faster growth in earnings than rural areas. The average urban hourly earnings increased from PKR 83 to 116, and in rural areas it increased from PKR 67 to PKR 97 during 2015-19, the report says.

The country has seen a decrease in the prevalence of undernourishment by 4.2 percent in four years during 2015-19, under the SDGs indicator. The prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity experience scale (FIES), increased by 0.46 percent for one year period from 2018-19 to 2019-20. According to the latest figures of 2019-20, 83.56% of people are food secure in Pakistan, report says.

Households living in different parts of the country experienced different levels of food insecurity. Food insecurity was as high as 23.36% in Balochistan and as low as 14.44% in KP in 2019-20.

Regarding the prevalence of stunting, SDGs indicator, the stunting reduced to 37.6 percent in 2017-18 from 44.8 percent in 2012-13 at the national level. Despite this reduction, the situation remained alarming in some provinces and regions. Close to half of the children were stunted, 47%, in both Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan as compared to 36.4% in Punjab in 2017-18, the report says.

At the national level, 32.6 percent reduction is observed to 186 per 100,000 live births in 2018-19 from 276 in 2006-07 in the maternal mortality ratio. The proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel improved by 10 percent and reached 68 percent in 2019-20 from 58 percent in 2014-15. A slight reduction was also recorded in the under-5 mortality rate. The under-5 mortality decreased to 62 in 2019-20 from 66 in 2014-15 at the national level with disparities in rural and urban areas, it was stated in the report.

The performance in the education related indicators has been stagnating or marginally improving in the last five years. The completion rate of primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education is reported and monitored by SDGs indicator. The alarming situation in primary completion rate can be seen from the stagnating of 67% in last five years during 2015-20 at the national level. Similarly, the gender gap of nine percent between the primary completion rate of males and females has also persisted in this period, mentioned in the report.

The large regional disparities persist in primary completion rates across the provinces. The gender gap against net enrolment at primary, middle and matric reduced at national level between 2014-15 and 2018-19.

Access to basic services in schools shows marginal improvement at national, provincial and area government levels, particularly at the level of primary schools.

Every four out of ten primary schools remained without electricity at the national level 2018-19. Less than two out of ten Primary schools in AJ&K schools had electricity in 2018-19. Half of the primary schools in the Sindh province did not offer safe drinking water to primary schools in 2018-19, report further said.

The population of the country having access to safely managed water source was 35% in 2018-19. In 2019-20, the proportion of the population using improved water sources was 94 percent. Among the provinces/regions, the highest proportion of the population using improved drinking water was in Punjab, 99%, followed by Sindh 94%, Balochistan 84% and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 83%, according to the report.

Access to electricity is one of the main pillars of development strategy of the government particularly rural electrification. An increase of three percent was recorded in 2019-20 with 96 percent of the country’s population having access to electricity as compared to 93% in 2014-15. Except for the Sindh province that recoded an increase of almost 6 percent, all other provinces and regions recorded a decrease in access to electricity between 2015-15 and 2017- 18. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the access to electricity decreased to 92 percent in 2018- 19 from 96.2percent in 2014-15, said in the report.

It is alarming to note that 30 percent youth in age group (15-24 years) was not in education, employment or training at the national level over the four-year period of 2015-19. Within the country, the highest instance of this category of youth was in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 38 percent. The children aged 10-14 years engaged in work slightly reduced by 2 percent to 6.47 percent from 8.64 percent in 2015-19, at the national level. The highest proportion of children in this category was in Punjab at 6.88% while the lowest proportion was at 0.4% in AJ&K in 2018- 19, the report further highlighted.

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