Pakistan’s depressing state of human development

Rich countries have reluctantly pledged resources to help poorer countries cope with climate-related ‘loss and damages’ being caused by their reckless industrialisation

Pakistan has seen two major flooding events within the span of a decade, and the devastation caused by floods this past summer was unprecedented in scale

The 2022 floods have not only wreaked economic havoc in Pakistan but are exerting a major toll on human development

According to the last UN Human Development Report, Pakistan has gone down by seven slots in the Human Development Index (HDI) ranking for 2021-2022

In 2020, Pakistan’s HDI had already fallen by two notches, placing it in the low human development category, due to its insufficient education, health, and income indicators

Now Pakistan ranks 161 out of 192 countries

Life expectancy at birth in Pakistan is a little over 66 years

The average Pakistan receives only eight years of schooling, and the gross per capita national income is just over $4,600

Pakistan has made steady progress in terms of improving its HDI since the early 1990s

In part, the steep decline in Pakistan’s HDI ranking in 2021-22 is due to methodological reasons

In 2020, the UNDP ranked 189 countries, whereas in 2021-22, 192 countries and territories were included in the index

However, a bigger reason for Pakistan’s lowered HDI ranking is due to its relatively modest progress compared to other countries

Pakistan is now trailing far behind other regional countries in human development

India presently ranks 132nd on the HDI index

Bangladesh is doing even better with a 129th ranking

Sri Lanka was placed 73rd on the HDI index due to years of impressive human development, although its position will probably be seriously impacted in next year’s ranking due to the ongoing economic turmoil in the country

Pakistan has the highest infant mortality rate in South Asia and the lowest life expectancy in the region, barring Afghanistan

Pakistan is facing a severe health crisis and yet its healthcare system is not being provided the resources it needs

Pakistani hospitals have only 6 hospital beds per 10,000 people

The doctor-to-patient ratio is also extremely low, with 1 doctor for every 1300 people

Government expenditure on education is also insufficient and inefficiently utilised

Teacher absenteeism and inadequate school infrastructure remain major problems in the public sector

The quality of education provided by low-income private schools is also not much better

A recent study by Aga Khan University tested student performance in grades 5, 6 and 8 in both private and public schools across the country

This study found more than 90 percent students at the primary and secondary level to have performed dismally in math and science exams

Pakistan has also not been able to impart adequate technical and vocational education that provides its immense labor force market-driven skills

A significant proportion of the formal workforce in the country is under-skilled and inadequately remunerated

The country also has a large informal sector, which is unregulated and where exploitation of workers, especially of women and children, remains rife

Pakistan coped well with the Covid-19 pandemic

However, the lingering impact of the flooding this past summer will continue to exert further pressure on Pakistan’s HDI ranking for quite some time, even though the HDI for 2021-22 was released in September 2022, after the massive flooding event

Despite skyrocketing inflation, soaring joblessness, and worsening security, which will further dampen economic growth, the attention of our policy and decision makers is riveted by a vicious power tussle which will not abate till a new government has assumed power

Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2023

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces

Date:11-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link