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ISLAMABAD: A UK-based advisory firm has declared Ehsaas Programme a success story, which can "transform poverty alleviation in Pakistan and perhaps become a globally celebrated example of what can be done with the right combination of ambition and effective delivery."

"If Dr Sania and her Ehsaas team see Ehsaas through to completion, it will be a major victory for the people of Pakistan and the programme could become a globally leading example of how to tackle poverty," says a report titled "The Ehsaas Programme: Shift from politics of patronage to politics of performance," issued by Delivery Associates, an advisory firm headquartered in United Kingdom that focuses on working with governments and other organisations to help them deliver improved outcomes for citizens.

"The mission of Ehsaas is more important now than ever to safeguard decades of hard work in the fight against poverty and build on it," says the 35-page document jointly authored by Sir Michael Barber, Sameer Anwar, Muqueet Shahzad and Raahema Siddiqui. Barber is the Chairman and Founder of Delivery Associates and former chief advisor on delivery to ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"As the world economy and Pakistan grapple with the challenges of COVID-19, poverty and inequality present an overriding concern. Ehsaas's contribution to protecting the most vulnerable from hardship and building pathways for the poor to graduate from poverty is at the heart of the government's agenda, as it contends with protecting vulnerable citizens and rebuilding the economy in the face of the ongoing health and economic crisis," the report says.

With the right team under Dr. Sania's guidance, Ehsaas has the makings of an impressive success story. Its multi-sectoral approach and focus on embedding welfare objectives into the workings of all ministries promises a long-term contribution to the redistribution of wealth in Pakistan, beyond the life of the programme itself, it adds.

The report says that Ehsaas's focus on leveraging digital tools, using technology innovatively, and building nationwide partnerships can also create a legacy for public sector programmes of the future.

"As the many detractors of the Ehsaas Programme (from across the federal and provincial ministries) started to see outcomes actually delivered, they became believers in the potential of Ehsaas and the PASS (Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety) Ministry. They began to see the benefits of the innovations that had been put in place and were increasingly enthusiastic about working closely with the Ehsaas team. Turf-wars were replaced by conversations about collaboration," the report adds.

Not only is the Ehsaas Programme beginning to work, especially its emergency cash transfers, but it is also demonstrating a new approach to government which puts results at the core and builds resilient systems that minimise historic problems such as corruption, collusion and leakage, the document says.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar termed the report a reflection on Ehsaas Programme's achievements. "This is a comprehensive and timely report from Delivery Associates, which helps us to reflect on the achievements of the Ehsaas Programme in its first year, while paving the way for continued success," she said addressing a joint presser with Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Thursday.

"This analysis will help us to stay focused on our goal of ending poverty in Pakistan and improved delivery for all of our beneficiaries, with the hope that Ehsaas can eventually be a model for the world," she added. Barber joined the presser through video link.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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