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‘29.5pc of the population lives below poverty line’

ISLAMABAD: About 29.5pc of Pakistan’s population lives below the poverty line, says a document submitted in the National Assembly by the Ministry of Planning and Development.

The document was submitted in reply to a question asked by PTI MNA Nafeesa Khattak who had asked for the number of people living below poverty line and the definition of the poverty line.

The ministry had replied that according to the latest estimates based on the Cost Basic Needs (CBN) 2013-14, using the Household Integrated Economic Survey data, 29.5pc of the population lives below the poverty line which translates to approximately 55 million people.

According to the submitted document, the latest method uses CBN, which looks at a minimum consumption bundle consisting of food and non-food essential consumables necessary to live.

“Pakistan’s poverty line using CBN method and monetizing the consumption bundle of 2350 kcal is set up at Rs3,030 per adult equivalent per month. If a person’s earning is less than Rs3,030 per month, he/she is below the poverty line,” the document says.

However, Sustainable Development Policy Institute Executive Director Dr AQ Suleri said the definition of the poverty line in the document submitted in the National Assembly defined fewer people as living under the line of poverty.

Talking to Dawn, he said that the document had defined those earning more than $1 per day as being above the poverty line.

“However, according to international standards, those who earn between $1.75 and $2 are considered to be living above the poverty line. So, if we follow international standards, if a person earns over Rs5,000 he will be living above the poverty line,” said, adding that if international standards were being followed, the number of people defined as living under the line of poverty will double.

Talking to Dawn, a representative of the SUN Civil Society Alliance Pakistan, Dr Irshad Danish said the use of the intake of calories as a method produces varying results.

The alliance is an initiative of the UN secretary general of which 57 countries including Pakistan are members and which works on nutrition levels.

“Our children need micro nutrients and they become stunted because they do not have a nutritious diet,” he said.

Quoting the cost of diet analysis which was conducted by the ministry of planning and the WFP and which was released two months ago, Dr Danish said 69pc of the country’s population is food insecure.

“Bread makes for the larger portion of most people’s diet. They do not eat meats, fruits and dairy products. In other words, they do not get a balanced diet and therefore, they cannot be called healthy,” he said.

People in Pakistan are also eating wheat which is infected with bacteria, which has a negative effect on their health, he said.

Almost half the women and children in the country suffer from various deficiencies related to the lack of vitamins and minerals in their diet and 45pc of deaths in children under five years of age are attributed to the lack of nutrition.

courtesy: dawn news

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