Accelerating Economic Growth and Decent Work in Sindh: A Call to Action for SDG 8

By: Aqsa Kaleem Baig

A focus group discussion on accelerating economic growth in Sindh was organized by the SDG Unit Sindh, emphasizing the importance of achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: “Decent Work and Economic Growth.” The session aimed to identify interventions and challenges related to SDG 8, assess the current state of economic growth in the province, and explore potential solutions. The consultative session focused on the significance of SDG 8 in Sindh, the key outcomes of the consultative session, and the necessary steps to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth for all.

Significance of SDG 8 in Sindh

Sindh, Pakistan’s second-largest province by population, faces significant challenges in achieving SDG 8. The province’s GDP data is collected but not published, making it difficult to assess the true state of its economy. However, it is known that the province’s GDP has seen both positive and negative growth, with improvements in prices and quality. To accelerate economic growth and create more job opportunities, Sindh must focus on increasing output and enhancing productivity. Growth is essential for providing more jobs, increasing per capita income, and promoting prosperity.

Key Outcomes of the Consultative Session

  1. Economic Growth Factors and Challenges: The session highlighted the importance of land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship as inputs for economic growth. Productivity improvements in land-to-output ratios have been observed, but labor-to-output ratios lag due to “disguised unemployment.” The province’s high population growth and density further exacerbate these challenges. With Sindh having the highest population in Pakistan, it is crucial to address the growing gap between population growth, which increases geometrically, and GDP, which increases arithmetically.
  2. Agriculture and Food Security: Despite having the largest cultivated area in Pakistan, Sindh remains a food-insecure province. Moreover, taxes and recovery of charges are unsustainable, contributing to the province’s food insecurity. Addressing these issues is crucial to ensuring food security for the region. The focus group discussed various farm sizes, from marginal holdings up to 2 hectares to large holdings greater than 20 hectares, stressing the need for more equitable land distribution and sustainable agricultural practices.
  3. Education and Skill Development: High dropout rates in schools and a lack of education and skill development hinder Sindh’s economic growth. The focus group stressed the need to learn from China’s growth model, which prioritized educational attainment. By improving access to quality education and skills training, Sindh can create a more robust workforce capable of driving economic growth. Additionally, addressing the underlying causes of high dropout rates, such as poverty and social issues, will be essential to ensuring a brighter future for the province’s youth.
  4. Gender Mainstreaming: According to the Global Gender Report 2022, Pakistan ranks second worst in gender parity, with Sindh being no exception. The focus group shared the success story of Bangladesh, where loans provided to women not only empowered them economically but also resulted in timely repayment and increased access to credit. Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in Sindh is vital for achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
  5. Health and Nutrition: Chronic malnutrition remains a significant challenge in Sindh, with half of the mothers experiencing moderate malnutrition and a high prevalence of stunting in children. Additionally, many women suffer from iron, vitamin A, and vitamin D deficiencies, contributing to poor health outcomes during pregnancy. Addressing these health and nutrition issues is essential for building a healthy and productive workforce. 
  6. Public Finance and Taxation: The focus group discussed the impact of public finance on economic growth, highlighting the need for a more equitable and sustainable taxation system. Indirect taxes, which are disproportionately higher in urban areas, increase the cost of business and hamper growth. Direct taxes, on the other hand, can provide more sustainable revenue and ensure a more equitable distribution of resources. Policy interventions should be strategically implemented at various stages of the economy to create a more balanced and robust financial structure.
  7. Collaboration and Data Sharing: One of the key challenges faced in the pursuit of SDG 8 in Sindh is the lack of published provincial GDP data. Access to this data is crucial for understanding the economic situation, identifying areas for improvement, and tracking progress toward SDG 8. Encouraging collaboration and data sharing among government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector is vital for informed decision-making and effective policy implementation.


Achieving SDG 8 in Sindh requires a multi-faceted approach, addressing challenges related to economic growth, agriculture and food security, education and skill development, gender mainstreaming, health and nutrition, public finance, and data sharing. The consultative session organized by SDG Unit Sindh highlighted the importance of collaboration and targeted interventions to accelerate economic growth and provide decent work opportunities for all.

It is crucial for stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, and civil society, to work together to implement evidence-based policies and programs that promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth. By addressing the identified challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities presented during the consultative session, Sindh can make significant strides towards achieving SDG 8 and ensuring a prosperous future for its people.

Focus Group Discussion on Accelerating Economic Growth in Sindh, organized by the Sustainable Development Goal Unit Sindh, [11th April, 2023], [Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi].

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