According to the World Bank report, extreme poverty, which had been declining steadily for close to 25 years, exhibited a regressing trend for the first time in 2020; more than 100 million people were estimated to fall into extreme poverty in 2020 alone while an additional 23 million to 35 million are expected to be pushed into poverty by the end of 2021, bringing the potential tally of new people living in extreme poverty to 150 million. In the developing countries like Pakistan, government has been trying to remove poverty from the country by Ehsaas programmes.
No doubt, Ehsaas Kafaalat in Pakistan is the Government’s un-conditional cash transfer programme which disburses cash stipends of Rs 2,000/ month and has led to opening of bank accounts of the most deserving and poorest women in Pakistan. Statistics show that the number of Kafaalat beneficiaries has been increased to 7.0 million and a policy on indexation of cash transfers has been accepted through BISP board. Quarterly stipend has also been risen from 5,000 to 6,000 / quarter.
Ehsaas national socio-economic registry survey
Furthermore, Ehsaas is conducting a door-to-door survey all over Pakistan so that data can be gathered about the socioeconomic status of households. It is also reported that the survey is the first ever computer aided survey that continues in various districts in Pakistan to enroll deserving households in Ehsaas. As of May 9, 2021 the survey is presently 87 percent completed in Pakistan.
Ehsaas registration desks/ effective grievance redressal
It is also said that to facilitate deserving households in self-registration, Ehsaas registration desks are being introduced at Tehsil level in Pakistan. The opening of registration desks is linked with the milestone of survey completion in each district. In this regard, Ehsaas has partnered with NADRA to organize Ehsaas Registration Centres (ERC). Initially, 63 Ehsaas registration desks were organized in 15 districts and now more desks are being organized in 50 more districts. All these districts have attained 70 percent household coverage under Ehsaas survey.
Ehsaas emergency cash
In addition to dire health results, Covid-19 affected livelihoods at an unprecedented scale; according to estimates, it negatively impacted ~160 million people in the country. In response, the Government of Pakistan delivered Rs 179.8 billion as one-time emergency cash assistance to 14.8 million beneficiaries at risk of falling into extreme poverty. Given the family size, this meant helping over 100 million people or half Pakistan’s population, showing the largest and most extensive social protection intervention ever in the history of Pakistan. Each family was meant to receive Rs 12,000 for immediate subsistence, statistics identified.
Education conditional cash transfers
Initially, Education Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) programme covered primary school enrollment of 3.69 million children, supply capacity assessment of 160,246 public and private schools, constitution of 100,505 beneficiary committees for social mobilization and disbursement of Rs 15.7 billion as of 30-06-2020. The government’s statistics show that the Rs 80 billion Education CCT programme has been enlarged and massively reformed under Ehsaas to bring 5 million deserving primary school children into its fold from across all 154 districts of the country over a 4- year duration.
This Programme aims to address stunting in children under 23 months of age. 49 Nashonuma Centres are being opened in 14 districts in the first phase of Ehsaas Nashonuma programme. Statistics also show that the total budget of the 3-year programme is almost Rs 8.52 billion.
Ehsaas undergraduate scholarship
Prime Minster Imran Khan granted Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships for academic year FY2019 to the first batch of deserving students on March 2, 2020. Aiming to offer higher education opportunities for 200,000 students coming from under-privileged backgrounds, the 4-year Ehsaas undergraduate scholarship programme worth Rs 24 billion is the largest ever need based scholarship programme in the history of Pakistan. For the academic year FY2021, total 67,000 scholarships worth 6.53 billion have been accepted to benefit deserving students.
Financial inclusion and Ehsaas saving wallets
It is also said that through Ehsaas Saving Wallets (ESWs), Kafaalat beneficiaries will have the option of either drawing their money or saving money in digital wallets. For the first time, the poorest women in the country will have the option to save their payments. Financial and digital inclusion of 7 million households is one of the seven overarching goals of the Ehsaas Strategy.
Ehsaas interest free loans
Furthermore, as part of Ehsaas framework, 80,000 interest free loans are being disbursed every month across the country to reach 2.28 million households over the next 4 years. Overall, 1,100 loan centers/branches have been organized in about 110 districts by 24 partner organizations in Pakistan. During July- March FY2021, a total of 490,368 interest free loans amounting to Rs 17.50 billion have been disbursed to the borrowers.
Ehsaas Amdan (income) programme
This Programme also involves giving small assets to those who live below the poverty line so that they can earn a living and escape from the shocks of poverty. Assets include livestock, agricultural inputs, body of Qingqi rickshaws and inputs for small retail outlets and small enterprises. Statistics also show that the Rs 15 billion programme has been rolled out in 375 rural Union Councils of 23 poorest districts across the 4 provinces of Pakistan.
Ehsaas koi bhooka na soye
EKBNS was officially introduced through the Prime Minister to serve free meals to deserving populations in twin cities, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Centered on lessons from this initial phase, the innovative EKBNS programme has now been upscaled to three other cities counting Lahore, Faisalabad and Peshawar. Earlier this year, Prime Minister of Pakistan had declared his resolve for the year 2021 that EKBNS would be introduced to make sure that no one goes to bed hungry.