ISLAMABAD: The government is seeking $600 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to realise its vision of social protection and poverty reduction through the Ehsaas programme. The plan aims at enhanced social protection and access to education, health services and nutrition requirements for poor households.

The impact of ‘Integrated Social Protection Development Programme’ (ISPDP) will be alleviation of poverty, reduced inequality and inclusive and sustainable human capital development, according to the project document.

In addition to the loan, ADB will provide grant assistance of $3 million for the integrated social protection development programme. The bank has already held its management review meeting, which is a requirement for the loan’s approval.

Social protection programme aims to alleviate poverty, reduce inequality

The aims of the proposed ISPDP is to strengthen and expand BISP so that it helps the government in combating poverty and raising the quality of life for the lowest tier of society. This objective will be achieved through institutional capacity for social protection and strengthened climate resilience, enhanced access to primary and secondary education for poor girls and boys; and enhanced access to health services and nutritional supplies for women, adolescent girls, and children of poor families.

A new study of ADB prepared for the project says that BISP was passing through an institutional restructuring process, and facing difficulties in technical human resources, lack of experience in implementation of environmental safeguards, and to develop resilience to shocks induced by climate change.

However, BISP has already worked with the World Bank and a few other international donors and funding institutions. Its significant contributions towards social sector had widely been applauded. Despite BISP’s institutional seniority and acknowledged credibility, it has never faced the challenges of implementing environmental safeguards and developing resilience to climate change induced shocks, ADB says. ISPDP will be implemented across the country.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2021

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