Pakistan is a country which is home of many problems and poverty is the main cause of these problems which is particularly predominant in rural areas. Nearly two thirds of the population, and 80 per cent of the country’s poor people, live in rural parts of the country. The causes of poverty include lack of education, poor access to health services and sanitation, large family size, gender discrimination and vulnerability to environmental degradation and deterioration of the natural resource base.
Agriculture is at the heart of the rural economy, and most rural people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. But for many of the poorest rural people income depends on non-farm sources.
Although women play a major role in the household economy and in providing care for their families, they are particularly vulnerable. Despite improvements in economic conditions after recent reforms, there are still broad discrepancies in social standing between men and women. Women own fewer assets, they have limited economic options and less access to social services. They have high rates of illiteracy. And their burden of labour increases significantly when poor levels of agricultural productivity force men to migrate to find work.
Large numbers of rural people are poor because of unequal land distribution. A few large landholders own a disproportionate amount of land. More than 74% of family farms have plots of less than 5 hectares, and 25 per cent of all farms consist of less than 1 hectare. At present about 40 per cent of farmers own and operate their farms, while 40 per cent are tenant farmers. Sharecroppers who work on land belonging to large-scale farmers are often in debt to their employers.
Integrated Rural Development Council (IRDC) is a village based organization mainly working with peasants, sharecroppers, landless farm labourers, disables and rural women to improve their human and socio-economic situation in a participatory spirit.