ISLAMABAD, Nov 4: Pakistan’s social and poverty indicators are below those of other countries with similar per capita incomes and have improved more slowly than others with similar growth rates owing mainly to only a 20 per cent overall success rate in areas like water supply, sanitation and waste management.

“Compared with Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, Pakistan’s school enrolment is lower, adult illiteracy is higher, and infant and child mortality rates are higher,” says an analytical study of the Asian Development Bank.

Bangladesh exhibits social indicators like infant and child mortality, education index, female gross primary enrolment and female illiteracy that are substantially better.

Pakistan’s achievement of its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) appears to be fraught with challenges as well. Its average annual economic growth rate of 4.1 per cent over the last 14 years (1993-2006) has contributed to the protracted realisation of the MDG on poverty reduction. Although poverty incidence fell from 29.3 per cent in 1994 to 23.9 per cent in 2005, the proportion of Pakistan’s population still living in poverty was 32.1 per cent in 2005 – significantly above the target of 13 per cent by 2015.

Infant mortality rate is 73 per 1,000 live births, child mortality is 100 per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality is 400 per 100,000 live births. The proportion of population areas at risk for malaria using effective prevention and treatment is 30 per cent, while the proportion of tuberculosis detected and managed through the direct observed treatment short course is 27 per cent. The proportion of the population with access to piped water is 66 per cent, while the proportion with access to sanitation is 54 per cent.

The Asian bank said that the bottom-up (outcome) assessment of health sector operations in Pakistan was ‘unsuccessful’ while top-down (physical implementation) assessment is ‘partly successful’, although on the lower-end of the scale. The overall sector rating combining bottom-up and top-down assessment is ‘unsuccessful’. That means that construction of buildings and capacity improvement may have been on the positive side, the service outcomes may not have improved due to corruption, absentee staff, missing equipment and medical supplies.

The performance of five out of nine completed and ongoing projects in water supply, sanitation and waste management sectors were rated ‘partly successful’ and four ‘unsuccessful’, the ADB report said, adding that “evaluation results show that operations in this sector have the lowest rate of success at 20 per cent of any ADB operations in Pakistan though improving to 50 per cent” for projects approved in the 1990s.

The bank said that significant governance issues in the sector clearly remain unaddressed, most notably corruption that affects performance. “The opportunity for rent-seeking activities in the distribution of an essential good such as water is high,” it noted.

Targets in rural water supply and sanitation projects funded by the ADB in terms of number of schemes were largely reached or even exceeded with delays, but the targets for the number of households connected, hours of daily supply, water quality and sustainability were often not met.

The ADB said that projects in urban areas often failed to turn a high rate, though usually much delayed, of output delivery – sometimes of doubtful quality – into positive development outcomes. An important factor is the financial and management weakness of the urban authorities concerned.

Institutional strengthening components usually failed to deliver the intended results, or were only partially implemented.

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