Ehsaas initiative touched half of population of country

ISLAMABAD – Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar, has said that Ehsaas Programme has touched the lives of half of the country’s population amid the COVID-19 crises.

Since the launch of Ehsaas Programme as an umbrella initiative on March 27, 2019 by Prime Minister Imran Khan, many transformative initiatives and policy reforms have effectively been implemented nationwide, she said in a statement issued here. 

Some of the Ehsaas’ early achievements across various sectors include Kafaalat, Emergency Cash, Undergraduate Scholarship, Nashonuma, Langars, Interest Free Loans, Amdan and several others.

Looking back at 2020, Ehsaas touched the lives of half of the country’s population amid the COVID-19 crises. Mitigating the pandemic’s socioeconomic damage, the government launched the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme that has been widely acknowledged and showcased worldwide. Rolled out within ten days after the lockdown began, it delivered one-time cash grants to 14.8 million deserving households (100 million people) with disbursements reaching Rs. 179 billion.

In 2020, the Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships granted 50,762 need cum merit-based scholarships to undergraduate students from the low-income backgrounds; Ehsaas interest-free loans supported more than one million borrowers (46% women) through loans worth Rs. 37 billion to run small enterprises, Ehsaas Amdan transferred small income-generating assets worth Rs. 2 billion to 34,812 deserving households to graduate them out of poverty and Ehsaas Nashonuma opened 29 centers in 8 districts of the country to tackle stunting among pregnant and lactating mothers, and children under 2 through a mix of conditional cash transfers and specialized nutritious food. By the end of February 2021, 19 more centers are opening in 6 districts.

Also contributing to the socio-economic mainstreaming of the poorest, the Ehsaas Kafaalat provided unconditional cash transfers along with saving bank accounts for millions of deserving households. As part of the recent enhancement through PM’s approval, the number of Kafaalat recipients has been increased from currently 4.6 to 7 million; a new Ehsaas Kafaalat for Special Persons Policy has also been announced bringing 2 million deserving families with a disabled person into the fold of Kafaalat. 

To enrol deserving households in Ehsaas, the digitally enabled Ehsaas survey is on going in various districts across the country. The game changing survey is currently 56% complete in the field and is expected to be concluded before June 2021 nationwide. Once the survey nears completion in each district, Ehsaas registration desks are also opened at tehsil level to facilitate self-registration of left out deserving households.

Among other initiatives, Waseela-e-Taleem Digital, an education conditional cash transfer programme has massively been reformed and upscaled through end-to-end digitization, cost effective changes in institutional infrastructure, new stipend policy and nationwide expansion to all districts. Also, under ‘Mazdoor ka Ehsaas, 16 Ehsaas Langars have been opened so far in all provinces and the federal capital through the public-private partnership feeding 6001,000 daily wage earners everyday and work on the remaining has been fast-tracked. Furthermore, drawing on IT proficiencies, the living standards of all Panagahs in Islamabad have been restructured with enhanced infrastructure and standardized capacity for food catering and living. 

By the end of 2020, the pilot rollout of the Ehsaas Tahafuz, Pakistan’s first shock-oriented precision safety net, has just commenced to protect the vulnerable against catastrophic health expenditures. Also, the soon-to-be-launched Ehsaas One-Window initiative will assist beneficiaries through a single window solution and will avoid fragmentation. The first prototype physical centre will open in Islamabad by March 2021. 

Sitting under the umbrella of Ehsaas, there are more than 50 Dar-ul-Ehsaas Centres in the country and each centre provides quality care and education to hundred deserving children. Likewise, through 156 Women Empowerment Centers, skills training courses are imparted to deserving yet talented girls and women, commented SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar.

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