SAARC Regional Poverty Profile 2005

REVIEW BY Dr. Prem Sharma

The SAARC Regional Poverty Profile (RPP) has been published since 2003 on regular basis. The main aim, as the secretary general claims, of the profile is to capture the overall trends of poverty in the region, to allow governments to be familiar with the experiences in other countries in the area of poverty reduction, and to derive benefit from them. In this regard, the RPP 2005 is the third publication of the series which has given the significance of productive employment as a means to combating poverty. It has specifically focused on the analysis of recent trend, depth and incidence of poverty, covering both income and non-income dimensions. The profile intends understanding poverty alleviation and employment policies/strategies in the countries of South Asia as a key objective of this exercise. So, to this end, the preface explains, the profile reviews the trends on population, labor force, employment, productivity and wage, and their impact on enhancing livelihood and reducing poverty in the region. Thus, the profile contains a useful set of information on Best Practices on poverty reduction.

The profile was published lately in August 2006 with the cost of US $ 10.00 volumed in 222 pages plus xii preliminary pages. However, as one of the components of methodology (p.4), the profile is disseminated free of cost to appropriate SAARC meetings, universities, research institutions and media organizations of the seven SAARC countries, and universities and research institutions of other countries. It is an outcome of SAARC Plan of Action on Poverty Alleviation and the SAARC Development Goals (SDGs). The Plan of Action has set 22 regional goals which are aimed to be achieved during the decade of 2006-2015 as the SAARC Decade of Poverty Alleviation. The RPPs can play a supportive role in monitoring poverty trends, attainment of the SDGs as well as the Millennium Development (MDGs), and in providing policy inputs for national and regional level implementation. The profile focuses on current issues of poverty reduction and productive employment generation. ‘The issues raised range from impact of rising income inequalities on the space of poverty reduction to the fundamental question: had recently economic growth in the region really been pro-poor?’ It has further dealt with the poverty reduction and human development issues; tried to identify and analyze the central issues arising out of SAARC country performance in productive employment generation; assessed the economic gains and the possible losses of outmigration; provided an overview of SAARC country poverty alleviation policies and employment generation strategies.  The key issues, the report has, raised are: poverty and inequality, social inclusion, economic development and human development, women empowerment, tapping the assets of the poor, regional disparities, poverty and rural development, employment and labor productivity. Labor skills, mobility and poverty reduction, and remittances and poverty reduction.

From the report a reader or a researcher can benefit from the country poverty profile which has provided a disaggregated data analysis of the scenarios of the SAARC region under several tables. Besides, one can find comparative information/data analysis tables, figures, illustrations of best practices undergone in different countries, and list of cases (studies) boxes throughout the report. The last chapter i.e. conclusion has been drawn on the basis of data analyzed in the preceding eight chapters. In this section the report appears with theme-wise organization: poverty and inequality, under-nutrition, human development and human poverty, location and regional concentration, the correlates of poverty, employment and underemployment, employment of educated and skilled workers, the quality of employment growth, impact of economic liberalization and structural adjustment programs, structural change, employment and poverty reduction and lastly, poverty alleviation and employment policies. The body of the report follows by 2 pages references, III appendices, 42 pages of tables and at the end, by a list of SAARC priced publications that contains 19 publications.

Going through the report, no doubt, no stone has been left to be turned over by the study team regarding the inventory creation of SAARC regional poverty profile. The job has been performed by an expert team comprised of member states, i.e. country teams. Financial support and experts from UNDP and ILO have been involved. And different universities professors, doctors of the member state have made contributions with their different capacities and areas of specialization.

In spite of that the profile would be more scientific if the abbreviations were termed as acronyms. The report is more based on qualitative analysis and based on secondary source of information. A reader feels a bit embarrassed in the acuteness of qualitative analysis such as the case of Gramin Vikas banking system of Bangladesh and community managed forest programs of Nepal for poverty alleviation program. Some of such indigenous institutions and programs may be there in most of the member states that can be pro-poor instruments reducing the poverty in different context. For example, the Charkha program initiated by Mahatma Gandhi half century ago could be traced out as native as well as indigenous options that our ancestors taught us. Therefore, the profile would be more worthy had it brought out such studies and indigenous know-how. The report has surfacial analysis regarding the fundamental reasons and barriers of poverty incidence. It is hoped that the forth coming series will ponder on these issues/areas and find out new dimensions of plan, policies and strategies of poverty reduction venture. However, by and large, the report is technically a periodic regional poverty profile, the expectations and aspirations of readers cannot be fulfilled in one issue and from a single effort. But the profile is a milestone or an opportunity to understand, and familiarize with the scenario of poverty in the SAARC region. It has promoted and wielded academic relations among the member states and provided information to these concerns beyond the SAARC region.

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  • Posted on - 2011-02-12    by     kumar
  • Poverty profile