Though the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has put several mechanisms in place to align its development priorities with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the situation on the ground is still far from satisfactory.

Officials told Dawn that the province’s SDGs Framework and Supplementary Annexure for PC-1 recommendations with regard to simplifying the government’s approval processes to improve project management and district scorecard of SDGs have been approved by relevant forums. Besides this, all the legal forums at provincial, departmental and district levels are in place.

The official said the District SDGs Scorecard has been prepared by the SDG unit and offered unique insights into the standing of each district against the goals. He said that to overcome the lack of data, the unit was working to integrate all the routine data generated by the government department into an ecosystem. “The SDG Unit designed a course about SDGs in collaboration with the Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar to teach development studies which is being copied by Balochistan,” the official said.

About 60pc children fail to transit from primary to secondary level in schools

He said that in addition to this, they were tracking the annual development programme for which they have developed a mechanism to track both the development and current expenditure of the provincial government. He was of the view that though this tracking would yield results in the next two years, however, coupled with the SDG Scorecard, it was going to offer guidelines for future development spending as well.

“With these tools in place, allocations for future development spending are not going to matter because while previously members of provincial assembly used to call shots in determining projects, now they would be aligned with the SDG scorecard of the district,” the official said.

While the government is working to put in place systems to align its development priorities with SDGs, the actual situation on the ground seems to be not so rosy.

Qamar Naseem, the programme coordinator of Blue Veins, a local non-governmental organisation, was of the view that except for health there has been little progress on most of the SDGs. He said that in terms of quality education, the province’s situation was really worrying. He said that currently there were 2.4 million children out of schools in the province, of which about 64 per cent were females.

Mr Naseem said that 60pc children fail to transit from primary to secondary level in schools and only 19pc enter the 9th level. He said that about 22.8pc of girls drop out of school due to early marriages.

Mr Naseem said that gender equality was nowhere to be seen while institution-building was also lacking. “Government promulgates laws but the institutions are never made functional,” he said, adding that Pakistan was the fifth country in the world to endorse SDGs and passed a framework from the National Assembly to align its development priorities with SDGs.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, October 4th, 2021

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