Poverty forces Kalash growers to sell crops at low rates

Published on: 08/09/2018 | Comments: No comments 

September 08, 2018

CHITRAL: The poor growers of common bean (Lobia) and walnut in Kalash valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur have sold their produce two months before the harvest to the non-local traders at half the market price in order to meet their daily expenses.

Assad Ali, working as social organiser with a poverty alleviation project in the district, told Dawn that majority of the people of the valleys suffered from abject poverty who were always in need of hard cash. He said the common bean and walnut were their major sources of sustenance.

He said each Kalash family had a small landholding for cultivation and owned a number of trees of walnut and grapes, adding the people cultivated common bean which they sold for cash and kept a part of it for their own consumption.

The common bean is cultivated in March and harvested in September but the non-local traders thronged the valleys in the months of June and July to purchase the commodity in advance taking benefit of the poverty of the locals. Same is the case of walnuts which are harvested in October.

Mr Ali said this practice left the poor farmers with hardly any excess amount of the commodity at the time of harvest. He said the poor growers were forced to receive the money in advance from the traders. He said the families having one or more persons in government service faced no cash crunch and thus did not have to sell their produce before time.

Zar Nadir, a shopkeeper in Rumbur valley, said one kilogramme of common bean cost Rs130 to Rs140 in the season while it was purchased at Rs60 to Rs70 in the month of March.

About walnut, he said its rate per kg was Rs200, but it was purchased even less than Rs100 per kg in the month of March.

In the case of potato in Garam Chashma valley and tomato in Karimabad valley, the growers have, however, upper hand as they have long broken the shackles of exploiters. Growers in these areas get bumper crops and transport the produce to the national market, thus earning a handsome profit. Israruddin, an entrepreneur from Garam Chashma, said the growers in the valleys had become too smart and they were in a position to sell their produce at competitive prices to the traders from the national market.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2018

Poverty in Pakistan?s major cities reaches alarming levels

Published on: 19/07/2018 | Comments: No comments 

Six out of the top ten major cities in Pakistan have double-digit poverty figures. Quetta, with 46 percent, has the highest poverty rate while Islamabad, with 3 percent has the lowest poverty rate.

This was revealed in the ?State of Pakistani Cities (SPC)? report launched in Islamabad. The report presents the current state of development in the ten largest cities of Pakistan and throws light on the state of the economy, social service delivery, planning and development, housing, environment and heritage in these cities as well.

According to the 2017 census, 75 million people live in urban areas of Pakistan. 54 percent of the total urban population resides in these ten major cities of Pakistan. The report finds that larger cities have seen enormous urban sprawl due to increase in population and change in land use in downtown areas as well within the periphery of the cities.

Pakistani cities vary in terms of their size, economy, employment and tax revenues. Services and industry are the major employment sectors in Pakistani cities. The share of the service economy in the cities is larger than the share of services in the national economy. Pakistan generates 95 percent of its total federal tax revenue from its ten major cities and Karachi contributes 55 percent, Islamabad 16 percent, and Lahore 15 percent. The average urban per capita income in Pakistan among the ten cities varies from PKR 37,000-70,000. Poverty in urban areas is a major and visible phenomenon.

Access to clean water continues to be a major problem in Pakistani cities. Only 65.2 percent of households in Pakistan?s 10 major cities have access to piped water connections. The cities lack sewage treatment facilities and solid waste management which leads to severe environmental pollution and contamination of surface and groundwater bodies.??Shortage of power supply remains a persistent problem in harnessing the potential of the socio-economic development of the cities. Further, general understanding and appreciation of the environment and heritage are low among the relevant authorities and other stakeholders.

Increasing urbanization has created pressing demands for housing in cities. The absence of any formal provision for the lower-income urban population and the people migrating from rural areas to urban areas has resulted in the creation of large informal settlements, lacking access to the adequate level of services. The report also features a data gap in the urban sector in Pakistan as one of the key limitations for sustainable development.

The report emphasizes that Pakistani cities need to better plan and manage their development to meet the needs and demands of their citizens and the country. To prosper, cities need to be more responsive towards the environment and adopt technologies and economies that are less wasteful and destructive. Thus, taking a more realistic approach to development that meets the demands of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

UN-Habitat Pakistan also launched its Habitat Country Programme (HCP), Pakistan 2018-2022. HCP has been prepared and aligned with the Pakistan Vision 2025, United Nations Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF) One UN Programme (OP-III) and New Urban Agenda. It lays down the roadmap for achieving SDG 11 and other crosscutting SDGs. The key objectives of the programme include promoting socio-economic growth, improving access to affordable housing, energy, water and sanitation and other basic services, development of policies and regulatory instruments for sustainable urbanization and reduction of the impact of disasters and climate change.

The Federal Minister for Climate Change, Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh in his remarks reiterated the commitment of the Government of Pakistan to formulate the National and Provincial Urban Policies through participatory approach to arrive at viable solutions for climate-resilient urban development in the country and support measures to implement SDG 11 for inclusive, safe, and resilient cities. The State of Pakistani Cities report, 2018 provides the basis for continued collaborative action to develop common and consistent actions, policies and strategies which will ensure that the outcomes are pragmatic and reflect the ground realities across the country.

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Ministry of Planning, Development, and Reforms in her address highlighted that Pakistan is fortunate to have 31 percent of its population consisting of youth in the age bracket of 15-29 years. This ?youth bulge? provides a unique opportunity for utilizing their potential in contributing to urban economic development. The value generated by the urban economy needs to be equally shared through innovative, integrated financial mechanisms to ensure a sustainable flow of finance necessary for cities to meet the needs and provide opportunities for all. Sustainable and inclusive urban economies can be created by promoting urban strategies and policies that strengthen the capacity of cities to realize full potential as drivers of socio-economic development.

The report launching ceremony was attended by Federal Minister for Climate Change, Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh and Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reforms, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne, Australian High Commissioner, Margaret Adamson and other high-level officials.

.. Source

Poverty, drug use blamed for high suicide rate in Chitral

Published on: 25/04/2018 | Comments: No comments 

CHITRAL: Speakers at the consultative meeting here on Tuesday said that major causes of suicide among local youth were unemployment, poverty, failure in marriage as per desire, excessive use of drugs, misuse of social media and deviation from Islamic teachings and social norms.

The meeting titled ?Rising incidents of suicides among youth in Chitral? was held by the district police that was chaired by DPO retired Capt Mansoor Aman. The meeting was attended by the members of civil society organisations, religious leaders and academicians.

The speakers said that religious leaders and teachers should sensitise parents to keep check on their children and encourage them to freely discuss with them the issues of different natures. They said that distance between children and parents pushed the frustrated youth to take the extreme step of committing suicide.

They said that special lectures and brainstorming sessions should be held in schools and colleges in such a way that the students might disseminate the message to the society in large and create an environment in which the youth might despise the act of suicide and might not think it as one of the sources of relief from worries.

LECTURE: Renowned cardiologist retired Maj Gen Dr Azhar Mahmood Kayani, the executive director of Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, delivered a special lecture on ?Cardiovascular diseases and preventing measures? in Town Hall here on Tuesday.

The lecture was termed as first of its kind in Chitral in which dwellers of the city participated in large number. They asked a number of questions regarding heart diseases.

Dr Kayani said that people were not properly aware about the nature of heart diseases, which they could prevent easily by taking a number of steps. He said that ischemic heart diseases (IHD) were common in the area. ?It is known as No.1 killer but it is curable with diet and life style modifications, which are caused by loss of blood supply to heart due to the narrowing of arteries,? he added.

The health expert asked people to keep abreast themselves of their cholesterol level and other dimensions of their body by undergoing periodical laboratory tests so that their physician could advise them proper medication, which would go a long way to save them from IHD.

Dr Kayani said that one of the factors of the rising number of IHD was consumption of contaminated cooking oil and special penchant for consumption of meat in daily diet. He recommended use of vegetables and fruits.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2018