ISLAMABAD: Balochistan is the poorest province with 52 percent of households living below poverty line, according to a poverty survey carried out by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
The survey stated that one-third population, or 58.5 million people in the country, live below poverty line with stark intra-provincial and regional disparities in terms of poverty within each province. Overall, 21 percent households are extremely poor with severe poverty four times higher in rural population than in urban population.
After Balochistan, 32 and 44 per cent households in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, respectively, have been reported as poor whereas Punjab was found to be the least poor province with just 19 percent households falling below the poverty line.
The incidence of poverty in Balochistan is relatively less in the northern region than the rest of the province whereas within Punjab, districts in south have very high incidence of poverty while northern Punjab has very low incidence of poverty.
According to the survey, in Sindh, apart from districts of Karachi, poverty is high, whereas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, extreme poverty is concentrated in the northern mountainous region and high poverty is observed in the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Districts in central Khyber Pakhtunkhwa experience relatively low levels of poverty and the districts adjacent to Islamabad are the least poor ones.
The district level analysis showed strong inequalities within each province as different geographic regions experience different intensity of poverty.
Within Balochistan, districts at the border generally experienced higher intensity of poverty. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the intensity of poverty is the highest in northern mountainous regions relative to the rest of the province.
Within Punjab, the intensity of poverty is higher in southern districts relative to northern ones.
Similarly in Sindh, the intensity of poverty is higher in southern districts relative to the rest of the province.
The disaggregated estimates of severe poverty reveals that overall, 21 per cent households in Pakistan are extremely poor. Severe poverty in rural population is four times higher than in urban population.
Balochistan has the highest proportion of households, 35 per cent, falling below the severe poverty line. On the other hand, only 11 per cent households in Punjab fall below the severe poverty line. Northern regions of Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh have low incidence of severe poverty whereas southern regions in all provinces have a high incidence of severe poverty.
The extreme poor as well as the least poor regions have low ratios of vulnerable households. Majority of households in extremely poor districts are already below the poverty line whereas the deprivation level is generally low in least poor districts.
The survey suggested that policies aimed at poverty reduction need to take the incidence of vulnerability into account as any increase in the deprivation level of these households would add to the number of those falling below the poverty line.