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PESHAWAR, March 3: The Bacha Khan Poverty Alleviation Programme (BKPAP), a public-private venture sponsored by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, will undergo an independent evaluation to get assessed its social and economic impact, according to sources.

The findings and recommendations of the ‘third-party evaluation’ were necessitated to assist the future provincial government in making an informed decision about extending BKPAP’s scope to the whole of the province or decide otherwise, said a development planner.

“It is expected that the future government would not only continue the programme, it would also want to expand its scope to the whole of the province in view of its positive outcomes,” he said.

Covering 40 union councils in four Khyber Pakhtunkhwa districts, BKPAP was a pilot project that recently completed its programme life cycle. It was aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of a target population of around one million people.

In this respect, a poverty score card was developed to identify households in need of government assistance.

A total of 139,921 households were surveyed in the programme area, involving Mardan, Karak, Upper Dir and Battagram districts. Some 44 per cent of the surveyed families were found to fit the parameters of poverty, going by which the affected households were categorised as ‘extremely poor,’ ‘chronicle poor,’ and ‘transitory poor.’

According to an official, the outgoing government had decided to get BKPAP’s impact assessment done from an independent firm following a proposal by the implementing agency, Sarhad Rural Support Programme, a private sector development organisation.

A project of the planning and development department’s special development unit, BKPAP involves three main components, including social mobilisation, livelihood strengthening and social protection to combat growing poverty.

Originally designed to be completed in two years, the programme has taken an extra year because of the provincial government’s failure to release the promised funds in time, according to sources.

“Because of the slow disbursement of funding from the government, the programme was extended for one extra year,” said a source privy to the matter.

The government had committed to provide Rs1 billion in a two-year programme term. However, it released Rs742 million during the programme’s first two-and-a-half years in four tranches, causing BKPAP to take extra time to complete. As a consequence, its implementation costs recorded increase and the programme’s financial health also suffered due to inflationary trends.

The programme’s continuation and expansion to other districts, said an official, would depend on the third party’s evaluation that would help to come to know how much the pilot project had been successful in achieving its targets during the project life cycle.

“Sustainable Development Policy Institute carried out BKPAP’s social audit after the first year of its implementation and later a private firm was hired to conduct the programme’s financial audit on the basis of which the implementing agency appears to be quite confident about its expansion to other districts,” said a planning and development department official.

According to the official data, the project implementing agency carried out 683 community infrastructure development schemes 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, 7 rural access road schemes, and 9 micro hydel projects.

Involving an accumulative Rs315 million investment in 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 program period.

“The programme is an important achievement as the government evolved a system free from political interventions to counter poverty by reaching out to the deserving people,” said an official.

The Rs1 billion investment in infrastructure and livelihood improvement, said the planner, helped to provide a leverage as high as Rs7 billion to Rs8 billion, directly benefiting around half a million people in the four districts.

Apart from Rs315 million invested in infrastructure development, accumulative micro loans of Rs122.91 million were disbursed through a ‘Community Investment Fund’ among 12,221 beneficiaries. An amount of Rs 36.7 million received in repayment from the micro finance borrowers was revolved as small loans to some 3293 beneficiaries of 118 women village organizations, generating sizeable economic activities at the grassroots.