ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar addressing a press conference on Thursday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar addressing a press conference on Thursday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

ISLAMABAD: Ehsaas Programme — the flagship poverty alleviation initiative of the government — is bringing a positive change to the people of Pakistan and has laid the foundation of a global model for reducing poverty.

This is the key message of the report ‘The Ehsaas programme: Shift from politics of patronage to politics of performance’ published by Delivery Associates, a globally respected firm that works with governments across the world to achieve measurable developmental impact. The report has been prepared by Sir Michael Barber, chairman and founder of Delivery Associates. He was also chief adviser to former UK prime minister Tony Blair.

The report was shared at a joint press conference by Special Assis­tant to the Prime Minister Dr Sania Nishtar and federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz here on Thursday.

Mr Barber attended the press conference via a video link from the UK. The report analyses initial steps taken to make the programme transparent, multi-sectoral and results-driven. It talks about Ehsaas Kafaalat, which provides unconditional cash transfers to millions of the poorest women; Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships, which awards over 50,000 scholarships a year to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and; Ehsaas Nashonuma, conditional cash transfers to increase uptake of health and nutrition.

Sir Michael Barber analyses the steps taken to make the programme transparent

“Our analysis shows that Ehsaas by focusing on accountability and impact, has laid the foundations for becoming a globally leading exemplar on how to tackle poverty,” said Mr Barber.

“I have had the honour of working with successive Pakistani governments throughout my career and it is fantastic to see Ehsaas embedded at the heart of the current administration. The reforms and structural changes pioneered by the team resulted in the rapid delivery of Ehsaas Emergency Cash to 12 million households against the challenging and unprecedented backdrop of Covid-19. Their work is going to be vital in the coming months and years,” he said.

The Ehsaas team, under the strong leadership and unwavering integrity of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Dr Nishtar, made huge progress in delivering a multi-dimensional poverty alleviation programme in just a year, he said.

The report has reflected the four pillars of the anti-poverty programme which include addressing elite capture and strengthening governance, safety net, human capital development and jobs and livelihoods.

The report has also mentioned the way PM Khan has shown his commitment to end poverty through giving full patronage to Ehsaas Programme which not only addresses symptoms of poverty but also its causes, Sir Michael Barber said.

He also mentioned removal of 800,000 people from the Benazir Income Support Programme’s beneficiaries’ list to make sure money was going to deserving people, saying that it reflected the government’s commitment to ensure transparency.

The report also praises the programme’s use of technology and data, which underpin monitoring routines designed to ensure robust governance discipline throughout its operations. This includes a new data dashboard, openly displayed on the Ehsaas website, which uses a traffic light system to track progress on different strands of the programme, highlighting progress and improving transparency.

“This is a comprehensive and timely report from Delivery Associates, which helps us to reflect on the achievements of Ehsaas Programme in its first year, while paving the way for continued success,” said Dr Nishtar.

“This analysis will help us to stay focussed on our goal of ending poverty in Pakistan and improved delivery for all of our beneficiaries, with the hope that Ehsaas can eventually be a model for the world,” she added.

The Ehsaas Governance and Integrity Policy was approved by the Cabinet on Nov 12, 2019 to ensure those organisations involved in delivery of welfare are effective and responsive to the needs of those who they are mandated to serve. Also, governance observatory and multi-stakeholder monitoring were introduced.

Delivery Associates is based in the UK and works with government leaders from over 40 countries. It works in partnership with governments, public bodies and other organisations to build measurable value for as many people as possible. There are teams on the ground in 20 different countries around the world, with 24 different nationalities represented and 20 different languages spoken.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2020

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