In late 2007, economic recession combined with a regional drought brought poor communities to their knees in rural western Pakistan. Families stopped sending their children to school, and instead put them to work to help pay for their evening bread. With few skills or opportunities, the least fortunate took to the streets to become beggars.
Bakhtawar was a good student in the fifth grade at a small school located in a Southern Pakistan village. She enjoyed learning, laughing with her friends, and spending time with her family. But one evening, as she sat nervously in a chair beside her parents at the local meeting hall, she knew that everything about her childhood was coming to an end. No more school, no more girlfriends, no more fun. At 15, Bakhtawar was about to become engaged to be married.
Gul Laila, a resident of Dharian Bambian, Pakistan, can’t read or write, but she still arrives at the local school early every morning. Before heading off to her job as a domestic worker, she stops by the school to ensure all the teachers have shown up for work. Faculty absenteeism has no longer been an issue since the School Management Committee elected Laila as its chairwoman.
USAID encourages husbands to support their wives in producing and marketing products – often ones made in family settings for generations – as these enterprises represent a huge untapped economic resource in Pakistan.
Water-borne infections such as cholera, typhoid fever, and dysentery also burden the public health system and can impose significant economic losses. Safe water alone can reduce diarrhea and other related diseases by up to 50%, but an estimated 62% of Pakistan’s urban population and 84% of the rural population do not treat their water.
Last updated: August 07, 2014