Rural Poverty Reduction Strategy (RPRS)
Poverty in Pakistan has historically been higher in rural than urban areas. Poverty rose more sharply in the rural areas in the 1990s, and in 1999 the incidence of rural poverty (36.3 percent) was significantly higher than urban poverty (22.6 percent). Inequality also increased in Pakistan during the 1990s, in both urban and rural areas, which enhanced the negative impact on poverty of the slowdown in growth during this period. While agriculture is the predominant activity in rural society, a substantial proportion of the rural labor force, estimated at more than 40 percent, depends entirely on non-farm activities. The growth of non-farm activities appears to have been severely affected by low economic growth, decline in public sector development spending, and lower worker remittances during the 1990s.
There are a number of attributes, besides location, which characterize the poor in Pakistan.
Education is the most important factor that distinguishes the poor from the non-poor, for example the proportion of literate household heads in poor households was almost half than in non-poor households.
Second, poor households on average had 75 percent more children that the non-poor households. Most of these children are not receiving any education, and thus the cycle of poverty is perpetuated.
Third, more than one third of the poor households were headed by aged persons who were dependent on transfer incomes, such as pensions and other forms of social support.
Fourth, the poor had few physical assets, and according to one study, if a rural household possesses physical assets (land/livestock) the probability of it being poor declines by 55 percent.
Fifth, the poor rely disproportionately on informal sector employment. The incidence of poverty is the highest among household heads with occupations such as day laboring in agriculture, construction, trade and transport sectors. Incidence of poverty is also high among self-employed, which includes street vendors in urban areas, and sharecroppers in rural areas.
Gender discrimination is another key attribute that characterizes the poor. Incidence of poverty among women in Pakistan is higher compared with men, and is characterized by low endowment of land and productive assets, unemployment, discrimination in the labor market, and limited access to economic options and political processes.
The poor are also characterized by their vulnerability to environmental degradation and deterioration of the natural resource base, given that they tend to be strongly dependent on the exploitation of such resources.(Source: ADB Pakistan)
Therefore AJMF aspires to make meaningful interventions through a comprehensive set of programs to be launched in the rural areas of Pakistan in order to help rural poor fight out their deprivations and make a new beginning