ISLAMABAD (PR) In a meeting held at the office of the Benazir Income Support Programme, Chairperson BISP Dr Sania Nishtar stated that the goal of eradicating poverty across the country was inextricably tied to interventions that empower people to make choices that improve their living conditions including accessibility to family planning services. She added that the threat of population explosion currently facing the country could undermine all efforts toward ensuring economic progress in Pakistan. Secretary BISP, Omer Hamid Khan, Country Director Population Council, Dr Zeba Sathar, and CEO PPIF, Jawad Ahmed Qureshi, were among the participants of the meeting.

Reiterating the Chairperson’s statement that the burgeoning population could further strain resources that were in short supply the CEO, PPIF stated that the Population Innovation Fund had been created to introduce projects that tackle barriers to uptake of family planning services especially among low income communities. PPIF funded projects were making contraceptive services accessible in different parts of Punjab and with a strategic alliance with BISP would pave the way for targeted interventions that serve the needs of communities.

Dr Zeba Sathar stated that the census results had propelled the issue of population growth onto the agenda of the highest executive and judicial forums in the country. Until 1981, Pakistan was water abundant and became water stressed by 1998 with population reaching 132 million.  Pakistan was at present in a state of water scarcity as the population stood at 207 million, several million more than the most conservative fertility decline estimates made in 2010.

 Collaboration between partners from the federal government and the provincial governments demonstrated the earnestness on the part of stakeholders in tackling the issue.

Secretary, BISP, Omer Hamid Khan stated that BISP household survey was unprecedented in the country and the resulting data was an invaluable resource which could be utilized for evidence based development planning. He stated that the nexus between poverty eradication and fertility decline was undeniable and BISP was looking forward to collaborating with PPIF and Population Council for making contraceptive services accessible.

An MoU was signed between BISP, PPIF and Population Council for implementation of an innovative project for making family planning services accessible for the poorest households registered with the BISP in district Rahim Yar Khan. Secretary BISP thanked the participants and stated that the MoU should be the precursor to future collaboration between the three partners to tackle the issue of population growth.