Current Affairs South Asian Affairs

Redefining development orientation key to fight common socio-economic woes, Moot

ISLAMABAD, Dec 13: Speakers at an inaugural session of the South Asia sustainable development moot here Tuesday called for efficient planning, viable development programmes and their effective implementation for overall uplift of the sustainable society.

They placed special emphasis on the government to ensure provision of basic amenities, jobs, security, clean potable water, safe sanitation, across-the-board health facilities, pressing on an urgent need for civil society organisations across the regions to help governments in their respective countries to achieve these very goals that are pre-requisite for poverty alleviation, socio-economic growth, improvement in dismal health, education, water, sanitation, environment situation and sustained, peaceful, prosperous societies of the South Asia re region.

Given the multiple crises in the West, daunting challenge of poverty at home, and the emerging needs to look towards East, paradigms of sustainable development in South Asia need to be redefined, said the speakers at the inaugural session of 14th Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) ‘Re-defining Paradigms of Sustainable Development in South Asia’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

The region, which hosts the half of the poor of the world, needs to redefine its approach towards poverty reduction. Its orientation towards development also needs to be redefined with greater regional cooperation and integration, the speakers highlighted.

Speaking at the inaugural session as Keynote Speaker, Dr Sabina Alkire of the Oxford University’s Poverty and Human Development Initiative said the measurement of poverty needs to take into account multi-faceted nature of deprivations faced by the poor. She shared the salient findings of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2011 with particular reference to South Asia, which was earlier launched by the UNDP Human Development Report Office.

According to the MPI 2011, as many as half of the population of Pakistan is poor and the country needs to adopt its national multidimensional poverty line so as to take into account the multiple deprivations in education, health and living standards that 82.7 million MPI poor face.

Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Water and Power, said the South Asian region has a common history and shared future, instead of embroiled with the different kinds of conflicts tormenting the lives of billion of people, we should cooperate and promote feelings of one region as it will benefit all the regional countries with regard to poverty alleviation, social development, social justice and natural resource management.

He said that the region has always followed the policy of ‘looking at the West’ for development but it missed where it wanted to go and now the time has come to adopt a policy of ‘looking at the East’ keeping in view the regional economic cooperation and neighborhood. Talking of MFN status to India and Pak-China joint initiatives he said cooperation and partnership between the countries in the region is of utmost importance which would enable us to resolve our issues and challenges. He appreciated SDPI for its independent expert contributions for national policy-making in past and hoped that it will continue its people-centered work in future.

Dr. Saeed Shafqat, Chairperson BoG, SDPI said, this year‘s theme, has special significance not only for the region as the states prioritize policy agendas for the 2nd decade of 21st century but also for SDPI itself as it struggles to re-set its goals and re-interpret its institutional mandate, defined as the enhancement of peace, social justice and well-being, within and across generations.

Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI launched the SDC 2010 Anthology, ‘Peace and Sustainable Development in South Asia: The Way Forward’. Citing global current crisis involving economic, social, political, environmental dimensions, he said that prevalent development paradigms in developed world have not been able to take care of the current generations what to talk of future generations.

He said the conference would help us to analyze as to whether the Western prescriptions prescribed to us so far were relevant, financially viable, their relevance with countries’ political will, capacity to meet the demands at grassroots level and expertise at implementers level to deliver, and also whether all of the abovementioned factors or none of these factors were responsible for poor recovery of our patient—the underdevelopment. “This conference would also try to come up with new normative for our existing problems and we hope that revised normative may lead to revised solutions” added Dr Suleri.

In the session on ‘Livelihood options in conflict affected situations’ lack of awareness is one factor that goes unnoticed when it comes to identifying the reasons of low coverage of Social Safety Nets in Pakistan, said Dr. Babar Shahbaz of Faisalabad University. Gayarthi Lokuge from Sri Lanka said rivalries amongst ethnic groups was a major cause of non-cooperation in the fishermen community and can be tackled if the government provides a working support system for all fishermen. Richard Mallet from the United Kingdom and Dr. Ashfaq Hasan Khan, Safal Ghimire from Nepal highlighted the use of information, technology and communication as a means to increase livelihood options.

During the session on ‘Literature in South Asia: building bridges through fact and fiction’, Ameena Hussein, writer and publisher, Sri Lanka, Sushma Joshi, writer and film-maker, Nepal, Ayesha Salman of SDPI, Harris Khalique human rights activist and development practitioner, said the literature works as a means of expanding minds and providing deep insights on social and political issues that must be expressed to attain the greater goal of human development. They said the literature has helped to bridge the gap between different societies of not only South Asia, but also throughout the World.

During the session ‘Analysis of land rights situation in Pakistan’ jointly organized by Mehnaz Ajmal Paracha, of Oxfam GB and chaired by MNA Sharmila Farooqi, Nasar Hayat, Independent consultant, Fatteh Marri, researcher and Zulfiqar Shah of Institute of Social Movement gave their expert insights. It was highlighted that land right issues in Pakistan were directly linked with poverty, food insecurity, un-sustainability and social unrest.

The speakers said, the size of land and productivity coupled with judicious access and supply of water resources are equally important with the land rights. The experts agreed that the last three land reforms in Pakistan did not comprehensively address all the paradigms of Land ownership issues and there is a dire need of formulation of National

Land Policy and defining the Land reforms contextually. The effective land reforms with judicial land distribution system were considered to be an answer to the prevailing challenges in the country, they highlighted.

About the author

Saleem Shaikh

The writer is a development journalist. He writes on water, sanitation, environment, climate change, agriculture, women development, human rights, education, health, development budgets and economy.

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