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A billion South Asians live on less than $2 a day

Published May 26, 2007 12:00am

ISLAMABAD, May 25: The number of people living on $2 a day has grown to over one billion in South Asia in recent years from 821 million in 1981. This demonstrates how little the latest macro economic growth has trickled down to the poor in this “poorest region of the world”.

South Asia’s share in the global income is just 7 per cent while one-fifth of the world’s population and 43 per cent of the world’s poor live here, the “Human Development in South Asia 2006” report prepared by the Mahbub ul Haq Development Centre says.

The report was launched here on Friday at a ceremony with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in attendance as the chief guest.

The report highlights flaws in the methods of poverty measurements in South Asia, including Pakistan.

The report states that an estimated 437 million South Asians live below $1 a day, while 80 per cent of the region’s population survives on less than $2 a day.

“Three out of every four persons in this region survive on less than $2 a day,” the report says.

The per capita income of $594 in the region is lower than Sub-Saharan Africa’s $601 and far below the developing countries’ average of $1,502.

The poverty of opportunity (when people are deprived of opportunities) in Pakistan is twice the poverty measured by $1 a day. An estimated 460-480 million such poor people live in the region.

The report says that the Zakat programme in Pakistan lacks financial transparency. It also criticised the coverage of the Pakistan Baitul Mal.