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Insecurity and conflict

These accounts reveal that even securing a home can be a constant battle, draining people of energy and resources. Continual insecurity leads the poor to”spend their lives in fear and tension”, says Salma, especially women.

Several narrators, including Fatima, reveal how hard it is for the very poor to take any risks, such as change occupation, migrate elsewhere or take out a loan.

Basran describes how poverty breeds conflict over scarce resources. For example, Chhutta and Mircho have experienced opposition and hostility over securing a place to live.

Nazeer talks about the power dynamics between the poor and those in positions of authority or influence.

Fatima explains that women are reluctant to join their men when they migrate away temporarily for work, for fear that even their simple homes will be ransacked in their absence.

Hodat’s husband is fearful of giving up his traditional occupation and learning how to farm.

Karim Bux talks of the stress and mental tension of continual poverty, and Nasreen says the continual anxiety has turned her into a “heart patient”.


Insecurity and conflict is a key theme of the Living with poverty: Pakistan oral testimony project.


Allah Bux: older generation

Basran: desperate times

Chhutta: migrant’s tale

Fatima: vulnerable lives

Hodat: diversifying business

Karim Bux: lacking support

Khamiso: looking back

Kishore: living prudently

Mircho: losing dignity

Nasreen: just surviving

Nazeer: high standards

Salma: independent spirit

Key themes

Introduction to the project

Loans and debt

Survival strategies

The cost of poverty

Environmental decline


Political representation


Insecurity and conflict


Food security and health