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Poverty and social safety nets: a case study of Pakistan

Irfan, Mohammad (2003): Poverty and social safety nets: a case study of Pakistan. Published in: MIMAP TECHNICAL PAPER SERIES No. 15 (July 2003)


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Over two fifths of our population appears to be poor in the sense that their basic needs are not met by the resources at their disposal. This level of pauperism is roughly similar if not higher to what was our experience to begin with, at the time of independence in 1947. During some periods of the Pakistan’s history of over five decades, poverty was brought under some control however. But numbers of poor today are more than the total population in 1947. Emergence of poverty and deprivation in a society or community in general has evoked a response in terms of provisions and transfers as well as modification in growth pursuits to improve the situation. These measures may take variety of forms in terms of institutional structures and organisations. Social Safety Nets (SSN) for instance currently are opted throughout the developing world including Pakistan to address the issues of poverty and deprivation.

This study aims at examination of varying levels of poverty overtime and description and evaluation of existing social safety nets. In the first section of this study a brief discussion of inter-temporal poverty profile is made. The nature of SSN currently in vogue will be assessed in the second section of the report, wherein, their coverage, the contents and other qualitative dimensions will be described in detail. In addition, there will be a discussion of private philanthropy and transfers as well as their impact on the well-being of poor. In the concluding section SSN will be assessed with a major focus on highlighting the inadequacies of the existing approaches to alleviate poverty.

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