Category Archives: South Asia

Pakistan’s Wheat Management and the South Asian Hunger Bomb

Source:  Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), Islamabad, Pakistan.

Hunger’s direct victims: Every year in Pakistan, over 420,000[1] children under the age of five die because of malnutrition that affects their health. In June 2008, the annual food price inflation was running at about 20% and this figure is feared to be looming at 34% by mid December because of widespread unemployment and economic meltdown. Price hike of the sensitive commodities also increased in some cases to 40% during the same period of the year when compared to 2006. In a country that boasts to be a nuclear power and leader of the “Muslim Ummah,” the UNICEF report estimated that 38% of all Pakistani children were underweight, 37% stunted and 13% “wasted or unable” to attain the expected weight in their entire childhood. Pakistan made “insufficient progress” in tackling the hunger and children malnutrition. In addition to these hunger indicators, an appalling 44% of the Pakistani population does not have access to tap-water and only 42% use fixed toilets.

What’s actually happening?
Like many developing countries, Pakistan has been facing food shortage as an international phenomenon particularly in 2007. Not that the domestic management was perfect; the government’s Continue reading

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Common economic agenda vital for the region – Cabraal

Hiran H. SENEWIRATNE

The South Asian region has to work for a common economic framework/model fitting to each country in the region to achieve a sustainable economic growth in the long term perspective, the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal said.

“We are the people creating our society, therefore we have to find our strategies for the best interest of the future generation in the next coming decades,” addressing the SAARC Finance Governors’ Symposium and Inaugural International Research Conference held at Central Bank said.

The event was organised by the Central Bank and Governors and its officials participated from all SAARC member countries.

He said the South Asia known to be quiet region at one time, but during the last few years this region took a new stunt achieving a high growth momentum especially India, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Continue reading

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the antipoverty group that helped pull Bangladesh out of the ashes

Is Bigger Better? Using market incentives, Fazle Hasan Abed’s antipoverty group helped pull Bangladesh out of the ashes. Next up: Africa.

David Armstrong
2 June 2008
Forbes Asia
Copyright 2008 Forbes Inc.

Using market incentives, Fazle Hasan Abed built the largest antipoverty group in the world and helped pull Bangladesh out of the ashes. Now he wants to take on Africa.

From the large glass window of his modern, well-lit and spacious offices 19 floors above Dhaka, Bangladesh, Fazle Hasan Abed, a former executive for Shell Oil, can keep tabs on nearby Korail, a dense slum of 60,000 people living in single-story mud, aluminum and bamboo shacks, some built on thin stilts over the brackish water of an urban lake. Abed, 72, has more than a little interest in the slum. The
organization he founded in 1972, BRAC, the largest antipoverty group in the world, with 110,000 paid employees and a $482 million annual budget, has its hands everywhere in Korail. Continue reading

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Cities of South and South-East Asia – Sustainable Urban Future?

The leading Pakistani urban planner and commentator Arif Hasan (of Urban Resource Centre) wrote this think-piece in June 2007 as a Discussion Document for UN Event on “Sustainable Urban Future: Urbanization in an Era of Globalization and Environmental Change” – New York, July 09 – 10, 2007

The Reality

International capital is desperately looking for a home. Cities of South and South-East Asia are attractive destinations since they have a weak regulatory framework and have undergone structural adjustment. Here, this investment, is increasingly determining not only the shape of the city but also social and economic relations[1].

New terms, such as “world class cities”, “investment friendly infrastructure”, “foreign direct investment” or ”FDI” as it is called, have entered the development vocabulary. All politicians and official planners in the Asian cities I know are using these terms and it is largely because of them that the whole approach to planning has undergone a change. Local governments are obsessed by making cities “beautiful” to visitors and investors. This means building flyovers and elevated expressways as opposed to traffic management and planning; high-rise apartments as opposed to upgraded settlements; malls as opposed to traditional markets (which are being removed); removing poverty from the centre of the city to the periphery to improve the image of the city so as to promote DFI; catering to tourism rather than supporting local commerce; seeking the support of the international corporate sector (developers, banks, suppliers of technologies and the IFIs) for the above.

The above agenda is an expensive one. For this, sizeable loans have been negotiated with the IFIs on a scale unthinkable before[2]. Projects designed and funded through previous loans have not met their objectives and there is evidence to show that they will again not meet their objectives. Many of the projects are being floated on a BOT process. Projects have replaced planning. This is especially true of transport related projects[3]. In addition, there has never been more liquidity in banks and leasing companies. However, due to the freedom that these loan giving institutions have today, this liquidity is used to provide short-term high interest loans which do not bring any benefit to the city or to the majority of its residents[4]. Continue reading

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Karachi Calling – Urban notes from NPR

 “Does Karachi need a golf course for God sakes? … This is madness. I don’t have drinking water and I’m going to be watering the turf?”Amber Alibhai, general secretary of the public interest group Shehri, spends her days fighting with the city of Karachi about new development.

[Photo below – Junaid Bahadur Khan for NPR]

Amber Alibhai stands in her Karachi office.

Essay: Karachi Calling!

Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep writes about the contradictions of Karachi. As many as half of the Pakistani city’s 15 million or so residents live in squatter homes, even as foreign firms pour money into luxury developments.
 
The Urban Frontier: About the Series

This year, according to the U.N., half the world’s population lives in cities and the proportion will only increase. Morning Edition begins an occasional examination of the world’s cities with a series of profiles from Karachi, Pakistan’s economic powerhouse.

 

Morning Edition, June 4, 2008 · Karachi, one of the world’s most crowded cities, is debating its future. And those political debates keep returning to one subject: real estate. Developers are flocking to the Pakistani city, which has been profiled this week on Morning Edition as part of a series called “The Urban Frontier” about the world’s expanding cities.

Foreign developers are drawn to Karachi for at least two reasons. The first is demand. Pakistan may be a poor country, but many of it citizens are well off and developers believe they will pay a lot of money for expensive waterfront condos.

The second factor is a ready supply of investment capital in the Persian Gulf. To Dubai developers, for example, Karachi seems like a great investment.

A video from a Dubai development company features plans for a new city beside the old, with a new harbor, new parks and a nearly 2,000-foot tower that commemorates the year of Pakistan’s independence.

When the company brought its proposal to Pakistan, there was a meeting in the capital city of Islamabad. Word leaked out to Amber Alibhai, a public interest lawyer who is general secretary of an environmentalist group called Shehri. Continue reading

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Innovative slum dwellers ignored in redevelopment plan

“Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums, is known for its remarkable entrepreneurial spirit and flourishing economy. Its annual turnover is estimated at anywhere between $700 million and $1 billion. For all its drawbacks, in a city where rents are among the highest in the world, Dharavi offers a roof over heads for a rent as low as $4 per month. The Dharavi Redevelopment Project was first conceived in 1995. It took the government eight years to give the go-ahead and in June last year it invited bids to execute the $2.3 billion project.
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Filed under India, Inequality, Poverty, South Asia, Urban