As part of Prime Minister’s initiative, Ehsaas has opened 11 Panagahs (shelter homes) in the current quarter across different parts of the country, including five in Karachi, four in Quetta, Killa Abdullah, Gwadar and Lasbela districts of Balochistan, and one each in Skardu and Mardan districts of Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively.
Drawing on proper need assessment, these shelter homes have been established in low-income neighbourhoods and the residential areas of migrant workers to reach maximum number of labourers.
The concept of Panagah emerges from Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of compassion to facilitate the destitute and helpless people, while upholding their self-respect.
Panagahs protect the people from extreme weather conditions and chilling temperatures.
Last year in August, the prime minister had entrusted the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division with the responsibility of improving quality standards within Panagahs.
Since then, work was accelerated speedily, and a framework was developed to upgrade standards of all five Panagahs in Islamabad as a starting point.
The Poverty Division developed the policy framework and Paksitan Baitul Mal was given the responsibility for execution.
“These Panagahs provide one star+ bed and breakfast facility with meals, essentials, hygiene and security standards.
And, each Panagah serves free meals to around 500 people and offers 100-bed facility for overnight stay.
There is 24/7 camera surveillance, with power back-up, clean sheets, fully functioning shared bathrooms with hot running water, and self-service meals in dining halls seven days a week, which are served in shifts.
There is laundry and housekeeping service, and a mosque in every Panagah,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Poverty Alleviation Senator Dr Sania Nishtar said.
She said there were protocols for the need assessment to ensure Panagahs open in the right place.
“The funding model is such that each Panagah has its own account and government funding for essentials is ensured,” she added. Dr Sania said accounts were set up to accept donations for every Panagah.
In the new funding model, the government mandated memorandums of understanding with non-governmental organizations and individuals that wanted to contribute in-kind so that the contributions were predictable at both ends.
“We embedded many integrity features in the donation model for Panagahs – stipulating that no cash will be accepted on site at the Panagah by staff or any other authority.
And third-party audit is mandatory as per the Ehsaas Governance & Integrity Policy,” she added. As of December 31, 2020, all five Panagahs in the Federal Capital had been upgraded.
In Islamabad, Ehsaas has also introduced a complimentary shuttle service to serve daily wage earners’ travel to the Panagahs, located on the outskirts of the city.
Reiterating Ehsaas’ resolve to provide shelter to the non-resident labourers and piece rate workers, Dr Sania stated, “Panagah is one of the priority programmes of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Panagahs not only provide shelter to daily wage earners but also a two-time meal to them.
To ensure that the people are served with utmost dignity and self-respect, Ehsaas is providing training to the staff of Panagahs.”
Further, she added, “Panagahs’ initiative for low-income labourers is a giant step towards building a welfare state, who, otherwise, have to sleep on sidewalks in the harsh weather conditions.”—APP