On Monday, October 13th, 2014, IFPRI launched the 2014 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report - ninth in an annual series that presents a multidimensional measure of national, regional, and global hunger. It shows that the world has made progress in reducing hunger since 1990, but still has far to go, with levels of hunger remaining “alarming” or “extremely alarming” in 16 countries.
In this report, South Asia shows the most improvement and sharpest decline in GHI scores since 1990, but it still ranks the second highest in regional global hunger, just one-tenth of a point behind the highest hunger score of Africa south of the Sahara.
Since 1990, Pakistan has shown a steady decline in hunger according to the GHI scores, but it remains in the 'serious' hunger category, only a few points away from reaching the 'alarming' category. According to the GHI annual ranking, out of 76 countries, Pakistan retains its rank of 57 from last year. In comparison, Bangladesh slightly improved its rank from 58 last year to 57 this year and India improved the most by moving from 63 last year to 55 this year. These three countries, however, still trail behind Nepal (rank 44) and Sri Lanka (39).
This year’s report focuses on a critical aspect of hunger that is often overlooked: hidden hunger. Also known as micronutrient deficiency, hidden hunger affects more than an estimated 2 billion people globally. The repercussions of these vitamin and mineral deficiencies are both serious and long-lasting. Where hidden hunger has taken root, it not only prevents people from surviving and thriving as productive members of society, it also holds countries back in a cycle of poor nutrition, poor health, lost productivity, persistent poverty, and reduced economic growth.
For more details, follow our coverage of 2014 Global Hunger Index launch event on October 16th, 2014, 10:00 am - 11:00 am EDT at http://www.ifpri.org/event/2014-global-hunger-index-twitter-chat
On October 2nd, 2014, PSSP held a policy seminar in Islamabad on “Food Consumption Pattern and Nutritional Status in Pakistan.” Dr. Hina Nazli, Amina Mehmood, and Asma Shahzad discussed the prevalence of malnutrition in the country and Dr. Steve Davies, PSSP Chief of Party, moderated the event. The seminar was attended by key government and private sector stakeholders which included:
- Mr. Naeem-uz-Zafar, Member Social Sector, Planning Commission
- Mr. M. Aslam Shaheen, Chief, Nutrition Section, Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms, Islamabad
- Mr. Amir Shahzada, Scientific Officer, National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad
- Dr. Ahsan Ullah Khan, National Program Manager, Micronutrient Initiative, Islamabad
- Ms. Nancy Estes, Deputy Mission Director, USAID
- Mr. Steven Fonderiest, Deputy Drector, EGA/USAID
- Dr. Michael Trueblood, AOR – PSSP, EGA/USAID
- Mr. Randolph Augustin, Deputy Director, Health Section, USAID
- Ms. Sidra Ashraf, Program Management Assistant, Health Section, USAID
- Mr. Nazim Ali, Development Assistance Specialist, EGA/USAID
- Mr. William Butterfield, Program Economics Officer, USAID
- Dr. Sohail J.Malik, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI & Chairman IDS (Via Skype) read more...
PSSP Working Paper number 022 “Public Investment Efficiency and Sectoral Economic Growth in Pakistan” compares the effects of sectoral and aggregate public investments on sectoral private investment, output, and employment for eight sectors of the economy. The authors estimate the elasticities of private investment with respect to aggregate and sectoral public investments to find crowding-out or crowding-in phenomena in Pakistan as well as the changes in labor absorption or replacement due to additional capital and the effects on output. This is accomplished using vector autoregressive (VAR) models for each sector, which allows measuring the dynamic feedback effects among the variables. Forty-eight elasticity coefficients from sectoral and aggregate public investments are reported for the three variables. The authors conclude that fourteen out of sixteen cases confirm a crowding-in of private investment in the Pakistan economy. This overwhelming majority of cases supports the argument that public investment has a positive effect on private investment. It suggests that if the government of Pakistan wants to have a significant role from the private sector to increase inclusive growth, public investment should increase. A marginal productivity analysis (the effects per rupee of public investment) is conducted as well. The comparison for private investment shows that, for six out of eight sectors, the marginal productivity of sectoral investment is more than that of aggregate public investment. It stands to reason that public investment made directly in a sector will have a more profound impact per rupee than aggregate public investment has on the same sector.
The Emergence and Transformation of Batkhela (Malakand) Bazaar: Ethnic Entrepreneurship, Social Networks, and Change in Disadvantageous Societies
PSSP Working Paper 021 “The Emergence and Transformation of Batkhela (Malakand) Bazaar: Ethnic Entrepreneurship, Social Networks, and Change in Disadvantageous Societies” is an inquiry into the emergence and transformation of Batkhela bazaar in the North West of Pakistan. It investigates the emergence of the bazaar in the face of historical conditions characterized by social stratification and political exclusivity. It then probes the transformation of Batkhela bazaar and it’s functioning in the current socio-political conditions. The study also reflects on the social and political embeddedness of the entrepreneurial activities of the bazaar. Through ethnographic methods, the study finds that the entrepreneurs use social networks of family and friends at different stages of entrepreneurship. Where family networks were more useful in the initial stage of business development, friendship networks were more useful in the later stages of business. Friendship networks being more diverse are not limited to co-ethnics as the literature on ethnic entrepreneurship would suggest but are increasingly cross-ethnic. With these findings the study concludes that Batkhela bazaar is a monumental marketplace that is socially and political embedded and contributes enormously to economic growth in the region.
On September 11th, 2014, researchers and policymakers gathered at IFPRI to discuss the widespread damage and displacement caused by the recent floods in Pakistan at the PSSP event, "Addressing the Needs of Internally Displaced Persons in Pakistan." This seminar was chaired by His Excellency, Jalil Abbas Jilani, Ambassador of Pakistan to the US. Presentations were made by Dr. Anis Dani, former Social Scientist and Advisor to the World Bank, Dr. Paul Dorosh, Director of the Development, Strategy and Governance Division at IFPRI, and Dr. Shakil Malik, Director of Psychiatric Services, National Health Service Partnership in UK. The event was moderated by Dr. Sohail Malik, Visiting Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI and Chairman of Innovative Development Strategies Ltd. (IDS)
As of September 8,2014, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan reports 128 people dead, 436,499 persons affected by the floods in Punjab alone, and 325,647 acres of crops destroyed. There are additional losses in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and in Gilgit and Baltistan. This damage is likely to increase as flood water moves south through Sindh.
This only adds to the 1.02 million people displaced by the military campaign against terrorists in North Waziristan (according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (situation report number 10) as of September 2, 2014). In addition, there are also 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees residing throughout Pakistan.
These huge losses and the issue of internally displaced people (IDPs) are a matter of grave national and international concern. read more...
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is one of the most important measures used in economic analysis. The more common uses are: the indexation of wages, rents, contracts and social security payments; the deflation of household consumption in the national accounts; and as a general macroeconomic indicator, especially for inflation targeting and for setting interest rates. Elements of a CPI are also often used in the calculation of purchasing power parities (PPPs) required in the International Comparison Program (ICP) (UN, 2009). As such it also has very significant political implications when the performance of the governments is assessed in terms of real growth, inflation and poverty reduction.
This paper examines the measurement and construction of the Consumer Price Index in Pakistan. With the help of the data from Household Integrated Economic Surveys (HIES) of the Government of Pakistan, and the recently collected data of Rural Household Panel Survey under the Pakistan Strategy Support program, this paper examines identifies some serious issues in the measurement and construction of the CPI in Pakistan. Differences in the consumption patterns and prices faced by rural and urban households not explicitly accounted for in the CPI and the respective weights of different commodity groups used are highlighted as issues for serious concern.
PSSP Working Paper 018 "How much do you love Pakistan? A property tax revenue simulation for a municipal revolution in Punjab" conducted empirical policy research on property taxation with regard to fiscal revenue options and growth potential of cities. The study incorporates a legal and procedural review of the property tax system in Punjab and data collection primarily from one rural Tehsil of Punjab for the Urban Immovable Property Tax (UIPT) and the agricultural-land Local Rate tax. Key Informant Interviews were conducted to highlight the weaknesses in the local property tax systems arising from issues such as inter-governmental fiscal relations; classification, valuation and assessment mechanisms; political factors; compliance culture; tax administration functions, especially record-keeping; and exemptions and preferential treatments. Finally, simulations were undertaken to show the potential revenue increase from a variety of urban and rural property tax policy options. Results show substantial potential gains in tax revenue from extending the UIPT to built-up village Lal Lakeer Localities and other policy options.
An assessment of industrial employment skill gaps among university graduates in the Gujrat-Sialkot-Gujranwala industrial cluster, Pakistan
PSSP Working Paper 17 "An assessment of industrial employment skill gaps among university graduates in the Gujrat-Sialkot-Gujranwala industrial cluster, Pakistan" looks at different assessments of employers and students regarding job skills. These lead to prominent gaps, defined by the authors as skill, employability, and perception gaps. The study is based on surveys of 100 industrial employers and 151 final year students from 6 universities and postgraduate colleges in the Gujrat-Sialkot-Gujranwala industrial cluster. Factor analysis grouped 24 specific skills into the three interpretable categories: communication and business specific skills, core employability skills, and professional skills. The results suggest gaps in all three respects for each of the skill categories. Close coordination among all stakeholders through internship programs for students, development and timely revision of market oriented curricula, and special skill enhancement training programs are recommended steps to enhance productive youth employment in Pakistan.
Third Round of Grant Selections
Proposals due 31 March 2014
Research to Support the Enhanced Economic Growth of Pakistan
The Pakistan Strategy Support Program (PSSP) in conjunction with the federal Planning Commission is pleased to announce its third Call for Applications for research to enhance the economic growth of Pakistan. For Pakistan to achieve prosperity requires sustained and inclusive high growth. The Competitive Grants Program (CGP) is designed to support economic and other social science research that will inform the strategy of the Planning Commission for achieving its growth objectives. Fostering innovation within the academic and policy-oriented research communities of Pakistan is vital to the growth strategy.
The Competitive Grants Program is guided by a Research Advisory Committee (RAC) comprised of senior Pakistani and international development scholars. The 2014-15 Chairman of the RAC is Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Planning, Development and Reforms and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. Under its first two round of competition, the CGP has supported nearly forty research projects. Information on these previous rounds is available at pssp.ifpri.info.
Analyses of Selected Heavy Metals and Aflotoxin M1 in Milk for Human Consumption in Jhang City, Pakistan
PSSP Working Paper 012 “Analyses of Selected Heavy Metals and Aflatoxin M1 in Milk for Human Consumption in Jhang City, Pakistan" investigates chemical contaminants in milk which affect public health and can constrain exports under sanitary and phyto-sanitary agreements. To investigate this, a screening survey was conducted during 2012-2013 to determine concentrations of Copper, Lead, Cadmium, Chromium, and Aflatoxin M1 in unprocessed, non-branded liquid milk available at conventional milk shops in Jhang city of Punjab and, for comparison, from small farms located near wastewater drains in peri-urban areas of the city. Findings show median concentrations of heavy metals being significantly higher than the standards of the International Dairy Federation and levels in a very high percentage of the samples exceeded these standards, however, there was no permissible level available for Chromium to make a comparable analysis. The AFM1 levels in 17% of samples were higher than the maximum tolerance limit set by the United States. The authors argue that these findings warrant continuous monitoring of those contaminants and a policy for their control. The levels of AFM1 in samples indicate that feed for animals was contaminated with aflatoxin B1- the precursor of AFM1 and they recommend surveillance of aflatoxin B1 in commercial concentrate feeds and industrial waste management. More generally, the sampling methodology adopted in this study can be a template for executing similar surveys is urban areas of developing countries (and informal markets) where a sampling frame of shops is not available.