Ehsaas ranks high

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BECAUSE of smart strategy and transparent implementation, Ehsaas, the social protection initiative of PTI government, is getting acknowledgement at international level.

The World Bank in its latest report has recognised Ehsaas Cash Emergency programme amongst top four social protection interventions globally in terms of number of people covered.

After the breakout of Covid-19 last year, PTI government launched the cash emergency programme to provide immediate assistance to vulnerable segments of the society.

A cash stipend of Rs 12,000 to fifteen million households was delivered in apolitical manner, which meant helping over 100 million people or half the country’s population.

This certainly represented largest and most extensive social protection intervention ever in history of the country.

Credit for success of this programme goes to Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar who worked day and night, motivating deserving segments of the society to get them registered for the cash assistance.

The programme showed that by combining phones, Internet connectivity, national IDs and commercial payment systems, a digital and innovative demand-based social protection system could be created to enable those in distress to seek social support during crises.

It also demonstrated how cash transfer programmes could be deployed to counter socio-economic fallouts due to external shocks such as Covid-19, which present a long-term predicament.

Ehsaas programme also provides useful lessons to other countries as its basket is not confined only to cash disbursements but also envisages schemes to steer the people out of poverty through Ehsaas scholarships, Ehsaas interest free loans and Ehsaas Amdan.

Indeed at end of the day, success of Ehsaas programme will be gauged from the fact as to how many people graduate from it and earn their livelihoods in a dignified manner.

As budget for next fiscal year is to be presented next month, there is a need to further enhance allocations for this major initiative to achieve the set targets in shorter period of time. The focus must remain on schemes that lift people out of poverty.