Last update: Fri, 12 Feb 2016 08am
Home» BR Research - Pakistan Macroeconomics » Political economy & socioeconomics

MDGs: long way off from Pakistan

MDGIt won’t be too hard to guess that Pakistan is not on target to meet the Millennium Development Goals, aimed to be reached by 2015.

The World Bank’s recent Global Monitoring Report 2011 reiterates this view, though with a more optimistic stance than any average Pakistani might hold.

MDG goals focus on enhancing access to education, reducing gender disparity in education, eradicating poverty, improving maternal health and improving water and sanitation facilities.

Compared to its South Asian peers, – India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – Pakistan is on target for only a few of the goals, while the others have managed to be on the road to achieving more targets than Pakistan. The star of the quad is Sri Lanka, which is on target for most of the goals.

Interestingly one of the very few goals that Pakistan is on target to meet, is poverty reduction. In this aspect the country has beaten regional peers, including Sri Lanka.

Ironically, while confirming Pakistan’s relative edge at poverty reduction versus India and Bangladesh, the latest Human Development Report 2010 (HDR) depicts Sri Lanka as faring quite better than Pakistan in terms of poverty.

According to the report, 14 percent of Sri Lankans live below $1.25 a day against 22.6 percent in Pakistan. Note that it was the United Nations which initiated the MDGs in 2000, and the United Nations Development Programme which issues the HDR.

On the other hand, while the WB’s MDG appraisal mentions the non-availability of data for Pakistan as far as completion of primary schooling for all children is concerned, it would be a no-brainer to conclude that the country is not on target.

Given that the primary enrollment ratio – percentage of primary-school going children – mentioned in the HDR is the lowest at 66 percent in Pakistan, compared to over 80 percent in its counterparts, Pakistan is far behind its peers in this area.

And the goal of bringing about gender parity in education has a similar tale to tell, with the percentage of girls to boys enrolled at the secondary level in schools less than that of India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka at below 80 percent.

A comparison of maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births) reveals Sri Lanka to be the only country of the four, to be on target to meet the goal of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters. A look at the ratios mentioned in the HDR reveals that Pakistan’s maternal mortality ratio at 320 is lower than that of India’s and Bangladesh, both over 450.

But for the goal of reducing the under-five mortality rate (per 1000 births) by two-thirds, Pakistan is far from target, with Bangladesh being the only one of the four to be on target in this arena.

For the goals of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and to sanitation, India and Sri Lanka alone are on target for the former, while only Sri Lanka is on target for amending its sanitation facilities.

Quite obviously, Pakistan is not on target for most of the goals. Though it’s close to them, the chances of achieving the intended goals by 2015 appear slim.

The WB highlights sound policies and institutions to be pivotal for achieving the MDGs since these are fundamental for effective service delivery to the poor. With Pakistan standing at the lower end of institutional strength, it’s not really hard to guess if MDGs will see the light of the day in Pakistan by 2015.