GOING by the past practices of newly elected governments in resetting development priorities, the continuation of some of the important projects of poverty alleviation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa depends on the next political setup.
Some provincial officials said that billions of rupees investment made in the uplift schemes had not been effective in bringing down the overall poverty ratio.
The situation has apparently gone from bad to worse as poverty in KP was found to be growing from 29 per cent recorded in 2005-06, which was two per cent higher than the national average.
As per the last provincial government’s estimates, poverty incidence in KP rose to an alarming 39 per cent in 2008-09. Since then, nobody knows whether the figure has gone down or further up.
The last provincial government launched quite a few significant income generation schemes with an underlying theme of poverty alleviation in view of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s consistent poor showing on the poverty eradication front.
Noteworthy among the initiatives launched by the previous government include, the Rs1 billion Bacha Khan Poverty Alleviation Programme (BKPAP), over Rs2 billion Bacha Khan Khapal Rozgar (self-employment) scheme, and Pakhtunkhwa Hunermand (artisan) scheme.While Bacha Khan Khapal Rozgar scheme is still in progress, the BKPAP completed its three-year project life cycle on December 31, 2012 following which it awaits a policy decision to wind it up or continue it further.
“The decision to launch the second phase of BKPAP with the same parameters or expand it to a larger area of the province depends on the next government,” said a well-placed official.
Executed as a public-private venture sponsored by the last KP government, the project would shortly undergo a third party evaluation to assess its social and economic impact. Officials said the findings and recommendations of the third party evaluation this month, ,would be presented to the next provincial government.
However, for the time being, the provincial bureaucracy, said an official, was thinking of making it a part of the next financial year’s annual development programme.
Officials, however, are shaky because of the title of the project, reflecting it a symbol of the political ideology of the last ANP government. The project, said an official, was in the beginning named as the Chief Minister’s Poverty Alleviation Programme. Later, the government named it as Bacha Khan Poverty Alleviation Programme, wanting to draw political mileage out of it by naming it against the Pakhtun national leader Bacha Khan.
The politicisation of the project appears to be a big stumbling block in the way of a project that has benefited quite a significant number of poverty affected people in four of KP districts, aiming to improve socio-economic conditions of one million people.
Launched as a pilot project, its area included 40 union councils in four districts, Karak, Mardan, Battagram, and Dir Upper. Some 44 per cent households were found eligible to get assistance in the project area in accordance with a set of parameters determined to gauge poverty among the surveyed households. A poverty score card was developed to identify households in need of government assistance, dividing the eligible families into ‘extremely poor,’ ‘chronically poor,’ and ‘transitory poor.’
Executed by the Sarhad Rural Support Programme, a private sector development organisation, in partnership with the provincial planning and development department’s special development unit, BKPAP had three components, including social mobilisation, livelihood strengthening, and social protection to combat growing poverty.
Some 683 community infrastructure development schemes have been carried out in the four districts, including 217 drinking water supply schemes, 324 rural sanitation schemes, 83 link roads and suspension bridges construction schemes, 43 irrigation development schemes, seven rural access road schemes, and nine micro hydro projects.
Involving a total Rs315 million investment on the community infrastructure development schemes, an amount of Rs63 million was raised through communities as part of the programme strategy to develop the schemes’ ownership among the beneficiaries in an attempt to achieve their maintenance on sustainable basis in the post programme period.
In addition to investing Rs315 million in infrastructure development, total micro credit of Rs122.91 million was distributed through a ‘Community Investment Fund’ among 12,221 beneficiaries. An amount of Rs36.7 million received in repayment from the micro finance borrowers was rolled over as small loans to some 3293 beneficiaries of 118 women village organisations, generating sizeable economic activities at the grassroots.