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ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $603 million results-based lending programme to strengthen and expand social protection programmes in Pakistan.

Using conditional cash transfers, the programme will support the implementation of Ehsaas, Pakistan’s national social protection and poverty reduction strategy.

Under the Integrated Social Protection Development Program, the ADB will provide a regular loan of $600 million and a $3 million grant from the Asian Development Fund, and will administer a $24 million grant from the Education Above All Foundation.

Sources revealed that the loan is libor-rate based over the period of 30 years, including a gross period of five years.

“The program marks a significant shift in ADB’s strategic engagement in the social protection space in Pakistan in line with Ehsaas priorities,” said ADB Director General for Central and West Asia Yevgeniy Zhukov.

ADB approves $603mn loan to support Pakistan's Ehsaas program

“ADB’s support will transition from unconditional cash transfers that provide income support to a mixed-modality approach that focuses more on conditional cash transfers for education, health services, and nutritional supplies that will help reduce intergenerational poverty through human capital development.”

The programme supports the Ehsaas goal of expanding cash transfers to improve access to primary and secondary education up to grade 10 for children and adolescents of poor families, especially girls, and enhancing health services and nutrition for women, adolescent girls, and poor children. It also aims to initiate coverage of accelerated learning programs at primary education level for over-aged out-of-school children under conditional cash transfers.

In addition, the programme supports improvements in implementation and fiduciary capacity for Pakistan’s social protection programmes. This will build on previous ADB support to further improve grievance redress, risk management, financial management, procurement, monitoring and evaluation, and management information systems—functions which help to strengthen internal controls.

Pakistan is prone to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards, including floods, heat waves, and droughts which have a disproportionate impact on the poor and vulnerable.

By leveraging Asian Development Fund resources for climate adaptation, the program will help identify and integrate appropriate climate resilience measures, such as vulnerability mapping and early warning systems.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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