Digital connectivity, skill development stressed to alleviate rural poverty

ISLAMABAD   -  Investing in digital connectivity and skill development to empower rural communities can be a strategic long-term investment as it will provide peo­ple with the necessary tools and op­portunities to thrive in the digital age, thus alleviating poverty.

Zulfiqar Ali Shaikh, Director General of Media Communications at Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), said, “Poverty has become a major problem in low and middle-income countries, like Pakistan, owing to dif­ferent reasons. However, the govern­ment is taking different initiatives to reduce poverty levels by increasing the number of beneficiaries of BISP.”

He added that BISP stood out as a leading institution dedicated to the uplift of marginalised communities, which had offered financial assistance to 9.3 million households through its Kafaalat initiative. “The government runs different poverty eradication and skill development programmes in re­mote areas with the help of non-gov­ernmental organisations.”

Speaking to WealthPK, he said BISP had financially helped hundreds of thousands of families to start their own businesses. He said that BISP im­parted technical and vocational train­ing to 28,000 young people, including females. He added that BISP formed millions of groups in different areas to provide services to people in the sec­tors of health, education and water sup­ply. “Due to the galloping inflation, the number of poor people has increased significantly,” he said, adding that most people could not meet their needs with their limited resources, thus forcing them to borrow money to fulfill their daily needs. Zulfiqar opined that in­vesting in digital infrastructure in rural areas was essential for equitable devel­opment and inclusive growth. “While the progress in enhancing digital infra­structure nationwide is commendable, there is a critical need to prioritise the development of rural digital infra­structure, particularly in provinces like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. By doing so, Pakistan can foster inclu­sive growth, empower marginalised communities, and pave the way for a more digitally inclusive future,” he stressed. According to the World Bank, the poverty rate in Pakistan witnessed a significant increase in the fiscal year 2022-23 as approximately 39.4% of the population, around 95 million, was living below the poverty line. During the year approximately 12.5 million people were pushed into poverty due to poor economic conditions.

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