Oct 9, 2019, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation chaired the regular Ehsaas Communications Committee meeting held at the PM Secretariat on Oct 9, 2019. During the meeting, the communications plan for the upcoming Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships scheme and the World Poverty Day was set up in a consultative manner. In addition, the committee focused on exploring ways to communicate more effectively to target those who could benefit from the government’s Ehsaas’ interventions, precisely those that are marginalized and the hardest to reach out. Secretary PASSD, Principal Information Officer, PIDPASSD and communications and media representatives from various stakeholders including MoIB, PID, Associated Press of Pakistan, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, PEMRA, PTV News, ATV, Provincial Social Welfare Department – Punjab, BISP, Pakistan Bait ul Mal and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund joined the meeting. Ehsaas Communications Committee is due to meet every Wednesday under the leadership of Dr. Nishtar.
Oct 8, 2019, The steering committee carrying out the forthcoming Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships scheme met for the second time in this month to set up modalities of the combined working. In the month of October 2019, the ‘Ehsaas’ Undergraduate Scholarship scheme, a collaborative project of the BISP and Higher Education Commission (HEC) will be launched. With the help of this scheme, the deserving students from marginalized families who qualify for the scheme will be able to access undergraduate education. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation.
Oct 7, 2019, Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar says the government has decided to run social protection programmes under public private partnership. Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, she said social welfare programmes will be expanded through public private partnership model. Dr. Sania Nishtar said a Langar was opened in Islamabad today in collaboration with Saylani Welfare International Trust to provide free food to the needy. This langar scheme will be stretched out countrywide with 112 langar schemes under Ehsaas to be set up over 2 years period. These schemes will feed millions of deserving people. She said under the MoU signed with Saylani Trust, quality of food will be ensured. Further Dr. Sania outlined that once, clear Ehsaas Langar policy, brand book, one window app and governance framework are in place, the Langar scheme will ensure philanthropy by private sector reaches out deserving. The full press conference can be accessed here.
Oct 7, 2019, The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $200 million loan as additional financing to help support the Government of Pakistan’s flagship social protection programme, Ehsaas under which BISP supports more than 5 million eligible families across the country through over $3.6 billion in total cash transfers disbursed so far. BISP is one of the largest executing agencies of Ehsaas which is primarily funded by the Government of Pakistan and it supports Ehsaas through cash transfers, poverty graduation programs, and a targeted social safety net. The ADB-financed Social Protection Development Project, has enabled the enrollment of over 855,000 women beneficiaries to BISP, or about 15% of the eligible beneficiaries. The $200 million additional financing for this project will continue to support cash transfers as well as help BISP implement institutional strengthening measures. Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation and Chairperson BISP stated, ‘Ehsaas welcomes ADB’s funding to Pakistan that will help the Government in implementing the social protection and poverty alleviation initiatives which foster human capital development’.
Oct 7, 2019, The Prime Minister launched the ‘Ehsaas Langar Scheme’ today in Islamabad. Under an agreement with the Saylani Welfare Trust, Ehsaas will open 112 Langars nationwide over a 2-year period in the public private partnership. The Langars are meant to serve meals to the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the society, especially daily wage laborers. The first Langar was opened in Islamabad today, where at least 600 people will be provided free meals daily. The Ehsaas scheme will now be extended countrywide with as many as 112 Langar schemes being set up over the period of two years to feed millions of people lacking food. Talking to the people being served with food at the Langar site, the Prime Minister said, “Ehsaas Langar is a real step towards the creation of welfare state modelled on Riyasat e Madina. The Langar is aimed at feeding the poor and improving the lives of marginalized. This is our government’s top priority that nobody should sleep hungry in Pakistan’. Addressing all present at the occasion, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation thanked the Prime Minister for his supervision and guidance in making Langar scheme a reality. She then continued, ‘the recent Langar scheme is a continuation of our religious and cultural legacy as well and it will not only provide relief to those in need but will also add value to the lives of daily laborers and those earning low incomes’.
October 2, 2019, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation was invited by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to represent the Federal Government at the event that took place in Mirpur to distribute cheques amongst the next of kin and legal heirs of the deceased due to earthquake last week. Chairman NDMA, SAPM on Information, Firdaus Ashiq Awan and members of the local administration were also present on the occasion. Speaking to the affectees, Dr. Nishtar extended her heartfelt condolences to them and said that Government of Pakistan will never leave them alone in these hard times. Later, Dr. Nishtar together with Lt. Gen. Muhammad Afzal, Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) paid a visit to the earthquake affected areas of Mirpur to inquire after the affecters. She expressed her grief over the loss of human lives and went to village Sahang Kikri to inquire after the affected families. ‘I can deeply feel the pain of the people who suffered losses and extend my greatest sympathies to them’, she added. Sympathizing the affectees, she assured them that the rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the earthquake-hit areas is the top priority of the government of Pakistan.
Oct 2, 2019, Fully determined to reduce the burden of hunger for the poor, the Government of Pakistan’s multisectoral poverty alleviation programme, ‘Ehsaas’ is partnering with Saylani Welfare International Trust (SWIT) to open ‘Ehsaas Langar’ (soup kitchen) shortly in Islamabad. This joint initiative will later be extended countrywide to other cities as well to feed the poor and needy, in particular in Karachi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta and Peshawar. To mutually articulate the policy and operational modalities for launching and expanding Ehsaas Langar, Dr. Sania Nishtar had invited the leadership of SWIT at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat in Islamabad yesterday. It was discussed that once the overarching policy and operational modalities have been finalized by the end of this week, it will be followed by memorandum of action that will be inked between Ehsaas and SWIT. During the course of meeting, the preliminary scale, breadth and diversity of the joint initiative were also framed out by both the parties. It was agreed that further deliberations will take place soon to build up on the agreed areas of collaboration including identification of Langar sites in different areas of Pakistan.
Oct 1, 2019, One of the important Ehsaas initiatives, the Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships scheme is to be launched soon. Ehsaas has over 130 policies and programmes and this is one of them. The Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships scheme is a key initiative of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and Higher Education Commission (HEC). A memorandum of agreement has already been signed on September 20, 2019 and today the project steering committee met, to firm up modalities of the joint working. The meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation and Dr. Tariq Banuri, Chairman, HEC. Talking about the initiative, Dr. Nishtar said, “the Prime Minister has instructed that the undergraduate scheme should be launched as soon as possible. The Government realizes that deprivation to education is the highest contributor in Pakistan’s national multi-dimensional poverty index. Therefore, Ehsaas wishes to pay special attention to the education of undergraduate students especially women and girls from underprivileged families and areas’. Through this initiative, students qualifying for the project will have access to undergraduate education regardless of income, gender, or location. The number of scholarships will be determined based on the budget envelope.
Sep 29, 2019, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation together with Dr. Hafeez A. Pasha, a renowned Pakistani economist, Jochen Hippler and Muhammad Ziauddin led an informative session on ‘Economic Reform agenda of Pakistan’ at 6th Islamabad Literature Festival 2019. During the session, Dr. Nishtar threw light on several economic challenges being faced by Pakistan. The session was organized by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) is a private, German non-profit organization committed to the values of Social Democracy. She highly applauded the Islamabad Literature Festival and appreciated the manner in which it had succeeded in emphasizing Pakistani literature and culture.
Sep 26, 2019, Dr. Sania Nishtar joined President of Costa Rica, Dr. Sabina Alkire & other ministers at the multidimensional poverty peer network meeting during 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74). Dr. Nishtar shared about how Ehsaas is using both income as well as multidimensional poverty index (MPI) metrics for policy design and targeting. She also highlighted 4 data-related aspects in Ehsaas framework including 1) evidence gathering on the local drivers of poverty for policy action; 2) launching of district development portal; 3) the national strategy for the development of statistics; and 4) the national socio-economic registry 2019. It was emphasized that since rigorous data is needed for good policies, the government of Pakistan uses district level disaggregations of the National MPI for policy design and targeting.
Sep 26, 2019, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation together with Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined a lightning talk at the SDG Action Zone 2019 in New York. During the talk, Dr. Nishtar explained about what Ehsaas entails, its components, progress underway, its priorities, & partnership approach, challenges & opportunities and what success entails. Bill Gates outlined how digital & financial inclusion can be a force multiplier to address poverty. The SDG Action Zone has shown keen interest in partnering for poverty alleviation in Pakistan with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The SDG Action Zone is a space inside the United Nations grounds during General Assembly week (UNGA) where different actors can engage around the UN-high-level meetings and events in a meaningful and visible way.
Sep 26, 2019, During 74th session of UN General Assembly in New York, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation joined Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohammad and ministers from Turkey and Malaysia to discuss the imperative of environmental stewardship for addressing poverty. During the meeting, it was emphasized to build synergies between climate action and the drive against poverty.