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Prime Minister Imran Khan will launch Ehsaas asset (Amdan) programme of Rs15 billion on Friday (February 21), which will benefit 1.4 million people in 375 rural councils of the 23 poorest districts of the four provinces of the country.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty and Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) Chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar told mediapersons Tuesday that based on evidence, the programme would be further increased. She added that the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) would be the executing agency of the Amdan programme whereas its partners would be selected through a competitive bidding process, added Nishtar.

Dr Nishtar said that 60 percent female, 30 percent youth and 10 percent male would benefit from the programme. She further stated that the Ehsaas Amdan programme was one of the several programmes under the Ehsaas umbrella, and the programme's objective was to create livelihoods opportunities for those that were most disadvantaged.

The programme involves giving away of small "assets" to those who live below the poverty line, so that they can earn a living and can come out of the shackles of poverty.

Assets include livestock (goats, cows, buffaloes and poultry), agricultural inputs, body of Chingchi rickshaws, and inputs for small retail outlets and small enterprises, added the special assistant to the prime minister.

This programme is complimentary to Ehsaas Kafaalat, operations of which commenced on January 31st, 2020 and through which the government will provide cash stipends of Rs2,000 to around seven million most deserving women by the end of the year.

She added that beneficiaries for both the Kafaalat programme and Ehsaas Amdan (Income) programme were identified through a survey using the Poverty Score Card so that only the most deserving were identified.

Those beneficiaries that require vocational training are supported to attend courses offered by certified technical training institutes. Dr Nishtar said that trainings on asset utilisation and business planning were also provided to eligible household members to help them turn the asset into an economically productive enterprise.

Asset recipient households are also supported to access the Ehsaas interest-free loan window, if it is available in their area, and if they believe they require additional financing for business enhancement, she added. Districts in Punjab where this programme is commencing include Dera Ghazi Khan, Jhang, and Layyah.

In the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), there are 10 districts (Upper Kohistan, Lower Kohistan, Palas Kolai, Torghar, Batagram, Shangla, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Dera Ismail Khan and Tank).

In Balochistan, there are three districts: Jhal Magsi, Zhob, and Sherani. In Sindh, the districts include, Badin, Thatta, Sujawal, Kashmore, Shikarpur, Tharparkar and Umerkot.

These districts were selected based on a special study, which was conducted by the PPAF in which three parameters were taken into consideration, that were, level of human development, level of poverty, and level of food insecurity.

The districts, which ranked lowest, were included in the first wave of the programme. Ehsaas Amdan programme is based on evidence gathered through rigorous research.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020