ISLAMABAD:

Ehsaas hosted a high-level virtual event to commemorate the World Poverty Day being observed today. The session brought together four executing agencies of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division Department (PASSD)- BISP, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (OBM) and Trust for Voluntary Organizations (TVO), along with beneficiaries of various priority programs under the Ehsaas Initiative.

The representatives of these organizations got the opportunity to discuss policy and give recommendations to members of the government and various policy makers with the aim to make the Ehsaas initiative more responsive to problems arising from the ongoing pandemic.

SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar moderated the session along with Secretary PASSD Muhammad Ali Shahzada, the main highlight of the session was the engaging interaction between the beneficiaries of various mainstream Ehsaas programs and initiatives particularly Ehsaas Kafaalat, Ehsaas Interest Free Loans, Ehsaas Amdan and Ehsaas Nashonuma.

Speaking to the Ehsaas beneficiaries, SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar said, “Fighting poverty has always been one of the top priorities of our government. Ehsaas is fully determined to ensuring social and environmental protection for all. The growing recognition of the multi-dimensionality of poverty indicates that these two issues are inseparably interlinked, and that social protection cannot be fully grasped without addressing environmental issues at the same time.”

She further stated, “At the core of each of the Ehsaas initiatives- Kafaalat, interest free loans, Amdan, undergraduate Scholarships, Nashonuma, emergency cash, Langars and Panagahs which fall under Ehsaas, is the principle of inclusivity centered on social and environmental protection.”

Later in the day, Dr. Sania Nishtar visited Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal where she spent the day with the Ehsaas beneficiaries. She sat with them and listened to their concerns and assured them that they had the government’s full support and cooperation.

During the SAPM’s visit the beneficiaries also got the chance to give suggestions and express their views on how the programmes were being run, “the cash disbursal arrangements were very well made at Ehsaas Emergency Cash campsites as compared to those at small retail outlets for Kafaalat”, said Memoona Bibi, a Kafaalat beneficiary from Peshawar. Tahira Bibi, an Ehsaas interest free loan beneficiary from Layyah shared, “I want to act as a role model for women in my village to get them involved in income generation activities supported by Ehsaas poverty graduation programmes”. Hakeem Khan, another one of the beneficiaries of Ehsaas Amdan from Battagram has now set up a small enterprise to generate income for his family, he praised the initiative and said, “The rule-based procedures and demand driven approaches adopted under Ehsaas are highly commendable.”

“I am running an online trading business through a computer training provided to me under Ehsaas through Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal's Women Empowerment Centre in Islamabad”, Samina Waseem and Khalida Parveen are Kafaalat beneficiaries from Lahore and they happily shared that their children have also been enrolled in the ongoing Waseela-e-Taleem recently reformed under Ehsaas.

The virtual session was joined by Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht Provincial Minister for Finance Punjab, Hasham Inamullah Khan Provincial Minister for Social Welfare KP, senior representatives from other provinces including GB and AJK and senior officials of international development organizations.

According to the World Bank, global extreme poverty is expected to rise in 2020 for the first time in over 20 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, along with conflicts in many parts of the world and climate change, that have already slowed poverty reduction progress over the years. The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total estimates rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction.

This year marks the 27th anniversary of the declaration by the UNGA, in its resolution 47/196 of 22 December 1992, which announced 17th  October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

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