QUETTA: A local NGO with the aid of UN’s World Food Programme is providing cash assistance of Rs8,500 to families in Balochistan’s most impoverished district, Washuk.

According to a press release issued on Saturday, the vast and barren Washuk district has very low livelihood opportunities for its people and lately has been imperilled by drought and the new coronavirus pandemic due to which the border it shares with Iran has been closed resulting in severe economic decline in the area.

NGO Azat Foundation’s project “Relief to Drought and Covid-19-affected Population of Balochistan” is facilitating the needy families in the form of cash assistance in two cycles through UBL Omni distribution centres at Kharan and Basima cities and also includes women, disabled and elderly people. Under this project, approximately Rs 130 million would be distributed in more than 5,100 households.

According to their statement, the distribution centers are designed in compliance with the Covid-19 government guidelines where the beneficiaries are kept at a safe-distance for biometric verification and cash receipt. The counters are also equipped with hand sanitisers and hand washing facilities.

The purpose of selecting facilitation modality as “cash assistance” are several according to the foundation. Firstly, it directly assists individual households to meet their domestic needs.

Secondly, costs associated with cash assistance is much less as compared to any other assistance such as food packages because ensuring quality control of food packages, their transportation from warehouse to distribution point, taking food packages from distribution points to households is quite hectic, challenging and difficult, the foundation said.

And finally, from cash assistance, an individual needs are fulfilled according to his or her requirement as compared to food packages which tend to have more than the required quantity of food items than the actual requirement due to standardisation.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2020

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