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  ISLAMABAD: Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Marvi Memon Sunday commended the work of the Rural Support Programmes (RSPs) and the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) across Pakistan saying that their approach to social mobilization through community driven development is phenomenal for alleviating poverty.

She was addressing to the participants of the RSPs Annual Strategy Retreat 2017 as the chief guest, says a press release issued here.

The two-day strategic retreat was attended by the members of community institutions, donor agencies, representatives of the federal and provincial governments, development experts and officials of RSPs.

They held discussions with existing and new partners along with other supporters to review key strategic aspects of the RSPs' programmes focusing on poverty alleviation.       Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Pakistan Jean-Fran?ois Cautain and Nepal's Ambassador to Pakistan SewaIamsal Adhikari were the guests of honour.

Chairperson BISP said that BISP had 5.4 million women beneficiaries who get quarterly stipend as a part of social safety net. She said the BISP was mainly doing poverty management but the work of RSPs was focused on poverty alleviation. "I have seen the successes of community driven development approach of RSPs and we want to work together to replicate this approach to alleviate poverty. Since, RSPN and RSPs have a proven model and both RSPs and BISP work across Pakistan, we can form a partnership to maximize the impact on people's lives," she said.

The EU Ambassador Jean-Fran?ois Cautain said that the European Union had witnessed the quality and impact of RSPs work on rural poor communities across Pakistan, which was highly impressive. That is the reason that the Rural Support Programmes are the second largest EU fund recipients in Pakistan. He said that the key objective of EU's support to the RSPs was to contribute to poverty alleviation and support democracy. "We value our work in Pakistan and particularly focus on strengthening pro poor policies and bottom-up approach, he maintained.

The EU Ambassador also appreciated Marvi Memon for announcing to form a partnership with RSPs, saying that RSPs' joining hands with national level programmes of the government would certainly address the issues of poverty and ensure sustainability of development work.

Chief Executive Officer RSPNMs Shandana Khan, in her welcome note, gave an overview of RSPN and RSPs. She said that in order to fight poverty and bring change it was important to foster and support people's own institution, which were community organization (COs), village organization (VOs), and all fostered into union council level local support organizations (LSOs).

Marco Indelicato, Programme Manager for the Lighting Pakistan and Afghanistan initiative of the International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of World Bank, while representing the Country Director World Bank offered to support rural support programmes in Pakistan under its US$300 million `Light Pakistan' initiative which aims to provide electricity through unconventional means in areas not connected to the national grid.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2017

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