ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Ehsaas was launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 27, 2019 as Pakistan’s largest-ever social protection and poverty eradication initiative.
Ehsaas is unique because of its scale, policy formulation, well-articulated strategy, multi-sectoral character, governance and integrity policy, institutional arrangements, monitoring framework and enhanced funding to deliver the programme nationwide.
Collectively, the programme comprises over 140 programmes, policies and initiatives centered on a holistic approach to alleviating poverty.
The wide-ranging Ehsaas programme includes Ehsaas Kafaalat that covers monthly cash stipends of Rs 2,000 for 7 million poorest households, 50,000 merit cum need-based scholarships every year for brilliant students from low-income backgrounds, 80,000 Ehsaas interest-free loans every month for small enterprises, quarterly conditional cash transfers (CCT) for primary school-going children.
Also, nutrition-specific CCT, Ehsaas Nashonuma offers specialized nutritious food and quarterly stipends for pregnant and lactating mothers and children under two.
The foundations of Ehsaas have extensively been strengthened in the last two years through a new biometric payment system, demand-side SMS based request seeking platform, end-to-end digital survey and a new wealth profiling big data analytics mechanism.
Last year, when the COVID- 19 pandemic struck the Country, an immediate cash relief of Rs 12,000 each was extended through Ehsaas Emergency Cash to 14.8 million families of daily wage earners.
To tackle stunting in children under two years of age, 48 Ehsaas Nashonuma Centres are opening across 13 districts in the first phase of the programme. Promoting primary education, the Rs 80 billion primary education CCT programme will bring 5 million deserving primary school children into its fold from across all 154 districts of Pakistan over a 4- year duration.
Aiming to address systemic poverty, Ehsaas is also building livelihood opportunities for deserving households through Ehsaas Interest-Free Loan and Ehsaas Amdan programmes.
Since the launch of Ehsaas Interest-Free Loans in July 2019, the loans of Rs 43.17 billion have been disbursed to 1.23 million borrowers (46% women).
Besides, the four-year programme, Ehsaas Amdan has set the target to provide around 200,000 small income-generating assets to deserving households (60% women).
In total, it will impact the population of 1.4 million across the Country. So far, assets worth Rs 2.32 billion have been transferred to 38,749 households.
Last year, 50762 Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships worth Rs 4.8 billion were granted to bright yet brilliant students.
The scholarship offers a full-tuition fee and a living stipend (Rs 4,000 per month) for bright yet disadvantaged students to earn an undergraduate degree at any of the 125 public sector universities across Pakistan.
Further, to identify deserving households for Ehsaas social protection programmes- Ehsaas Kafaalat, Ehsaas Nashonuma and primary education CCTs, Ehsaas is conducting a door-to-door digital survey all over the Country.
Enrolment of new Ehsaas beneficiaries is dependent on the data from the new survey.
The survey is progressing smoothly to accomplish nationwide by June 2021.
As part of Mazdoor ka Ehsaas, the Ehsaas Langar Scheme is premised on an innovative public-private partnership with Saylani Trust feeding more than 600 laborers daily.
To date, 34 Langar facilities have been opened nationwide and work on the remaining is quickly underway.
Alongside, ‘Ehsaas Koi Bhooka Na Soye’ Ehsaas, is a new policy initiative of the prime minister to eliminate hunger in the Country. Under the newly launched initiative, food trucks serve free cooked food at various points across twin cities, Rawalpindi and Islamabad feeding around 2,000 people daily.
‘Panagahs’ is one of the prime minister’s priority programmes. Drawing on proper need assessment, Ehsaas has opened 11 new Panagahs (shelter homes) in the current quarter across different parts of the country providing one star+ bed and breakfast facility with meals, essentials, hygiene and security standards.
Many more programmes and initiatives will be introduced later this year. Others include the upcoming One Window Ehsaas Initiative and expansion of ‘Ehsaas Tahafuz’ and ‘Ehsaas Koi Bhooka Na Soye’ pilot initiatives.
During the course of the two years, Ehsaas has been widely commended globally at many international events hosted by the United Nations, Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, Harvard Pakistan Forum, SUN Movement and International Policy Center for Inclusive Growth.
Also, World Economic Forum (WEF), Telegraph, World Bank, World Food Programme (WFP) and UNSGSA have all engaged with and deeply appreciated Ehsaas.