Pakistan Administrated Kashmir has an area of 13,297 square kilometers while its population is 4.05 million, resulting in a high population density of 304 persons per square km. The urban population is 17.4 percent whereas 82.6 percent of the population lives in rural areas.  Approximately 18 percent of its population lives below the national poverty line and 25 percent can be considered multidimensionally poor. 

Despite abundant natural resources, high literacy rates (77 percent), an increasing number of tertiary level education institutions and good law and order situation, the socioeconomic outcomes in the area have been comparatively meager. The unemployment rate stands at 10.3 percent. Moreover, there are concerns over declining agricultural productivity, a rising population, lack of private sector growth, environmental degradation and climate change.  

Its government extensively invests in social and productive sectors - agriculture, livestock, mining, fisheries, forests, industry, trade, labour, tourism, retail, IT/communication, banking, hydropower and transport. In 2018-19, 33.8 percent of the development and recurrent budget was allocated to education, health and social protection sectors. However, despite these allocations, recent data indicates that 30 percent of children under the age of 5 are stunted, there is present only 1 hospital bed per 1078 persons and 1 doctor per 1058 persons. Adolescent birth rates are also high. Moreover, a high proportion of children are out of schools and education infrastructure, especially at the primary level, is suffering. 

Pakistan Administrated Kashmir is also facing serious challenges of climate change including  exploitation of forests, destruction of ecosystem, biodiversity loss due to unplanned construction and population growth, depletion of fresh water resources, more heatwaves, more natural disasters like floods and landslides, and a shift in monsoon and precipitation patterns, which in turn affect the cropping and farming patterns, among other negative consequences.  The negative impacts of climate change are multi-dimensional and wide-ranging. Their mitigation requires an integrated and coordinated policy response. The climate change risk can be addressed through adoption of appropriate measures including a regular monitoring and observation system, restoration of degraded habitats and forests, identifying new solutions involving cross-sectoral linkages to conserve its biological diversity, and through upstream watershed management. There is also need for raising awareness and advocacy about climate change in the local communities and public at large. There is also a dire need to provide alternate sources of fuel to the local population to save precious forests in the region. Pakistan Administrated Kashmir needs financial resources and technical assistance to take effective measures to tackle the challenges of the environment degradation and climate change. Currently, most development initiatives specifically related to environment and climate change are largely carried out through international development assistance.

Another area of concern is water and sanitation. While many schemes deal with construction of latrines and provision of water supply, issues of open defecation, fresh and ground water protection including water conservation and programmes related to WASH management require more attention. More efforts are required to plan and prioritize waste water treatment and solid waste management.

Meanwhile, massive potential is available for launching investments in hydel power generation, minerals and tourism sectors. Problems of the local corporate sectors, especially the existing and intending industrialists, need to be explored while sectoral policies and strategies also need to be formulated. 

Similarly, to unleash the potential of its youth, more efforts are required for generating youth employment. Youth has to be at the very center of the region’s development priorities. It is critical that the development framework adopt a comprehensive, rights-based approach to the issues of young people, especially related to productive and decent employment. These frameworks must simultaneously promote pro-employment economic policies, sound educational and training systems and gender-sensitive programmes to ease the school-to-work transition. Moreover, labour market policies should be sensitive to the constraints and needs of young women and men, and measures should be taken to ensure that young people have access to better healthcare and a voice in decisions that affect them. Future plans and policies should also include programmes that focus on child labour and improving the working conditions for labour. 

Since the introduction of SDGs in 2016 for improving socio uplift, economic growth and betterment of the environment, the Government of Pakistan Administrated Kashmir has shown strong commitment and undertaken numerous multi-phase initiatives towards localizing and enacting SDGs focused development agenda. This requires a framework for determining its socio-economic performance, as well as a thorough analysis of how policies and investment can be aligned with the global agenda of 2030.

The current Development Program 2019-20 of Pakistan Administrated Kashmir has been aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with an aim to translate Government of Pakistan’s Vision 2025 and goals and objectives set for 12th Five Year Plan (2018-23) into reality. The major emphasis has been given to Social Sector by raising its overall share in ADP 2019-20 from 19% to 24% to ensure improved social sector service delivery. Keeping in view the importance of SDGs, its Development Program has been realigned by earmarking 11% share in allocations for Productive Sectors to realize economic growth through strategic interventions ensuring comprehensive multi sectoral area development programs. It does so by involving local communities to enhance the revenue base and to improve socio-economic conditions. The Annual Development Program 2019-20 is focused on strengthening the most promising sectors for investment aiming at fast track socio economic development to achieve SDGs. They broadly include Urban Development Program, human resource development and institutional reforms, improved infrastructure, providing missing educational facilities, provision of clean drinking water at all district headquarters, Nutrition and Food security and tourism development to create decent employment opportunities. The ADP 2019-20 has been prepared with consultation of all line departments and is aligned with SDGs. For the first time in history, Government of Pakistan Administrated Kashmir has included the SDGs codes in its ADP 2019-20 book. This will help the line departments to track budgetary allocations and expenditures against the relevant SDGs while also showing the Government’s ownership and commitment to implement SDGs in Pakistan Administrated Kashmir to overcome development challenges.

Author:

Syed Ali Husnain Gillani
SDGs Coordinator
Husnain Gillani holds a vast development sector experience in economic and social development, and in improving the criminal justice system and security in Pakistan. His strength lies in his ability to enhance development efforts by improving systems, tools and mechanisms for policy and strategy planning, reporting, monitoring, analysis and evaluation.

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