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Event Title: Senate Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety

Event Date: 2021-08-13

The Senate Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety in its meeting on Friday at Parliament Lodges was briefed in detail on the status of the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF).  Total allocated budget to the Poverty Alleviation and the Social Safety Division under the EHSAS program.  
Chaired by Senator Dr Naseebullah Bazai, the meeting was attended by Senator Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Samina Mumtaz, Senator Keshoo Bai, Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Senator Kamran Murtaza, Senator Molvi Faiz Muhammad, Senator Aon Abbas Buppi, and senior officers from the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety along with all concerned. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar was also present.  
Discussing the various programs that fall under the EHSAS Program, especially in the health and education context, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar informed the Committee, that all out efforts are being made to improve and upscale the system.  In the Health Sector, Sehat Sahulat Program is a purchasing system formulated to enhance the protective shield to all.  This is a PSDP Project, which has been duly approved and is meant to meant to Compliment Pakistan Baitul Maal and other provinces that wish to emulate. This will bolster the eco system and eliminate duplications.  While raising concerns regarding awareness about these programs, members were informed that EHSAS is operating One Window Centers in order to provide all facilities under one roof in collaboration with provincial governments. Speaking of the EHSAS Cash Transfer Programs; particularly the Kifaalat Program for women, the Committee was informed that this is being raised to PKR 176 Billion this year.  It was asserted that all ‘ever married’ women; that would include divorcees well are eligible since benefits would translate to the whole family. Existing beneficiaries of the program are 5.8 million.   The EHSAS Emergency Cash Program unlike the Kifaalat Program has been spread out to all including men and transgenders in which a onetime payment of PKR 12000 is made.   Waseela e Taleem is a quarterly program provides financial assistance to children for education.  
Discussing the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) the Committee was informed about the governance and key programs under EHSAS.  It was asserted that it takes approximately two years for a family to shift out of poverty.  Skills’ training is conducted to achieve this goal.  A poverty score card is maintained and checked on a regular basis.  Programs that fall under the EHSAS umbrella are National Poverty Graduation Program, Interest Free Loans, PPAF holds a presence in 147 districts through 130 partner organizations.  Plans include building on learnings of its 20year experience.  This will also contribute to Government efforts to meet its SDG commitments.  PPAF has achieved landmark success while introducing the Micro Finance Sector in Pakistan. Members opined that programs must be inclusive of public representatives.  
Deliberating over the work of The Trust for Voluntary Organizations (TVO), the Committee was informed that it was dedicated to reducing poverty and restoring hope by improving the quality of life of the neglected segments of Pakistan.  TVO has disbursed grants over PKR 1.27 billion by funding 1422 projects to 1204 NGOs in Pakistan’s rural landscape.  It has ensured capacity building of more than 4000 members from NGOs/CBOs in rural areas and 15000 volunteers.  TVO’s key areas of focus include Education, Health, water Sanitation and Hygiene. Disaster Management, Livelihood and Environment are also part of its mandate.