Recently, the Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety, Shazia Marri, expressed the need to spend more on social protection programmes. In the aftermath of the floods, it has become clear that decades-long social and economic deprivation caused much of the devastation. The absence of inclusive and comprehensive social protection policies widened inequalities and led to a disproportionate distribution of wealth and resources.
The majority of the flood-affected areas were already backward, lacked basic facilities, and the main sources of income were agricultural activities. People not only lacked the knowledge but also the means to avert the risks of the disaster. The situation was worsened by the shoddy infrastructure as the government failed to develop these areas over the decades. Therefore, the federal government must scale up investment in education and healthcare to address social and economic inequalities. A more effective approach would be to incorporate local government and municipal administration along with civil society and non-government organisations to strengthen people-to-people contact and foster inclusivity.
Considering that Pakistan has reported a K-shaped recovery in different sectors, there is a need for macro-economic stabilisation and redistribution of policies to bridge financial gaps between different sectors. The government will be required to draw entrepreneurs and investment in different sectors to boost development. Importantly, locals in underdeveloped areas should be equipped with the latest agricultural technology and methods to improve output quality. These measures will not only speed up recovery but empower the masses and open new avenues for investment and innovation. Without adopting holistic social protection and development strategies that focus on all strata of society, most parts of the country will remain stuck in a vicious cycle of deprivation, and we will continue seeing widespread devastation in different forms.