ISLAMABAD: The Ehsaas programme touched the lives of half of the country’s population amid Covid-19 crisis last year and it continues to empower the weakest segments of society through its multi-faceted initiatives, an annual report of the programme said on Friday.

According to the report, released by the Poverty Alle­v­ia­tion and Social Protection Division, headed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty All­e­viation Dr Sania Nishtar, many transformative initiatives and policy reforms have effectively been imp­lemented nationwide since the launch of Ehsaas as an umbrella programme on March 27, 2019 by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Some of the programme’s early initiatives across various sectors included Kafaa­lat, Emergency Cash, Und­­e­r­graduate Scholarship, Na­­shonuma, Langars, Interest Free Loans and Amdani.

The report said that the programme had been rolled out within 10 days of the initiation of lockdown last year and it delivered one-time cash grants to 14.8 million deserving households (100m people) with disbursements reaching Rs179 billion.

Under the programme, the Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships granted 50,762 need-cum-merit-based scholarships last year to students from low-income backgrounds; Ehsaas interest free loans supported more than 1m borrowers (46 per cent of them women) through disbursement of Rs37bn loans to run small enterprises; Ehsaas Amdani transferred small income-generating assets worth Rs2bn to 34,812 deserving households to take them out of poverty; and Ehsaas Nashonuma opened 29 centres in eight districts of the country to tackle stunting among children under the age of two years through a mix of conditional cash transfers and specialised nutritious food.

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2021

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