August 13, 2020 -Khyber Tribal District: Prime Minister Imran Khan launched a new program, Ehsaas Nashonuma that will tackle stunting and improve the nutrition of the poorest children in Pakistan, emphasising that there is no place for malnutrition in twenty first century Pakistan. The inaugural officially took place at Ehsaas Nashonuma Center set up in Dogra Headquarter Hospital, Khyber Tribal District. Prime Minister visited the center and interacted with the staff, and beneficiary women and their children present at the registration, anthropometry, awareness, and specialized nutritious food distribution counters at the centre. At the launch event, Dr. Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation briefed the PM about the wide-ranging services being provided under Ehsaas Nashonuma. Under the program, every quarter conditional cash-transfers will be provided to the poorest pregnant and lactating women and those with children under two years old, totalling PKR 1500 for each boy child and PKR 2000 for each girl child. Ehsaas Nashonuma is being launched in the first phase in nine districts, including Khyber, Upper Dir, Bagh, Ghizer, Hunza, Kharmang, Kharan, Badin, and Rajanpur. Thirty-three Ehsaas Nashonama centers will be established at Tehsil level health facilities to provide all the program’s services under one roof.
August 10, 2020- Islamabad: Following official approval of Panagah Strategy by the Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 9, 2020, Dr. Sania Nishtar visited Panagah (shelter home) situated at Mandi More in Islamabad. As per PM’s directives, the visit aimed to plan upgradation of facilities being provided at Panagah. Dr. Nishtar took round of the facility and interacted with staff and labourers present. During the visit, Dr. Nishtar was joined by Focal Person Panagah Naseem ur Rehman, MD Pakistan Bait ul Mal Aon Abbas Buppi and Secretary Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division Ali Raza Bhutta.
August 10, 2020- Islamabad: Orphanages Expert Group met for the 13th time with PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar to give final shape to living standards for orphanages and child care centers. The group reviewed living standards for orphanages for the first time. The standards will be formalized soon for notification and implementation. Last year, in July 2019, the 11-member committee was constituted for orphanages by Dr. Nishtar to support and protect orphans under Ehsaas. The group was tasked to develop basic standards to ensure quality service at orphanages. Members of Ehsaas Orphanages Committee are prominent operators of orphanages from all across Pakistan. This is the first time that the government is taking steps to improve boarding standards for orphanages as this aspect of public service delivery had been neglected in the past.
August 9, 2020 – Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved Panagah Strategy to expand the scope of his initiative Panagah (shelter homes) across the country, in line with his vision of developing Pakistan as an Islamic welfare state. In a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the PM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation presented a strategy for administrative structure of the shelter homes to improve their management and service. Approving the strategy, PM underscored the need to prioritize service delivery with quality and dignity in these shelter homes for daily wage workers who have free accommodation and meals while being away from home and can send back wages to families. SAPM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar, Focal Person on Panagahs, Naseem-ur-Rehman, Managing Director Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal Aon Abbas Buppi and other senior officials also attended the meeting.
August 8, 2020 – Malakand: The official kick-off of Ehsaas Survey in KP, took place at Malakand. Ehsaas is conducting a door to door survey all over the country so that data can be gathered about the socioeconomic status of households. This has become critical after COVID 19 since livelihoods of people and their socioeconomic status has been affected. Survey is being done through a computer assisted approach. Malakand and Karak have been selected as sites where the survey will be conducted first. Since this is an end to end digital survey, training is critical. The Ehsaas survey is being conducted in close collaboration with the Provincial government of KP, Provincial Education Department of KP and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. Today, the week-long training of master trainers ended in Malakand. The training was conducted in Government High School No.1 Thana with the help of the District Administration. Following completion of the training, data collection was tested. SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar together with her team inaugurated the roll out of survey in KP through a live demonstration of a survey sampling, done right there with a family residing in the vicinity of the school. Earlier on, she conducted an interactive session with master trainers and answered their queries. The master trainers would now head back to fields to further train the 1,000 supervisors and enumerators in KP for conducting the survey across the province.
August 6, 2020 -Islamabad: In her capacity as a member of the Federal Task Force on Population, PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar joined the 3rd meeting of task force under the chair of President, Dr. Arif Alvi at Aiwan-e-Sadr, Islamabad. The meeting discussed detailed targets and road map to coordinate reproductive health efforts in Pakistan. The meeting was attended by Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noor ul Haq Qadri, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, SAPM for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr. Faisal Sultan, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan, Caretaker Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan Mir Afzal, provincial chief secretaries, Country Director Population Council Dr. Zeba Sathar, Representative UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Lina Mousa, and provincial ministers and secretaries of population welfare departments.
August 5, 2020 – Bangkok: Dr. Sania Nishtar joined a high-level virtual ministerial roundtable with Ministers from around the world as part of the expert panel to jointly share experiences of several countries in ensuring a gender-inclusive response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery measures. The roundtable discussion was hosted by Phumzle Mlambo Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. The primary goal of the discussion was to foster cross‐regional knowledge‐exchange and sharing of best practices to realize progress on SDG 5 in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic with a specific focus on women’s participation in the COVID‐19 response and gender‐inclusive packages. Dr. Sania Nishtar spoke in the panel on “response and recovery”. She outlined details about Pakistan’s remarkable efforts which have resulted in early disease decline as well as support for poorest families whose lives were adversely affected by COVID 19. She said that 61% of Ehsaas Emergency Cash disbursements were to women. More broadly, she added that Ehsaas is addressing women’s priorities through the economic response strategy. The expert panel brought together Special Assistant to Prime Minister of Pakistan on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, the Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Tourism of the Lebanese Republic, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Director General of the Pension Department of the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
August 5, 2020 – Lahore: The third meeting of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) central standing committee on women empowerment and development took place in Lahore. PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar virtually joined the meeting as a keynote speaker. Motivating entrepreneurial women, Dr. Nishtar said, “Foundational to Ehsaas is the realization that it is critically important to ensure that the program is responsive to needs of women in the country, who comprise 49% of total population. The ambition of Ehsaas is to skew critical initiatives towards women, by ensuring that at least 50% of all beneficiaries targeted by the program across initiatives are women. Therefore, Ehsaas encompasses several social protection and poverty alleviation initiatives targeted towards women, including interest free loans (50% women), Amdan (60% women), undergraduate scholarships (50%) and Kafaalat (7 million women), thus opening doors to rights and opportunities.” Further, highlighting Ehsaas Emergency Cash experience, Dr. Nishtar added that 61% of Ehsaas Emergency Cash has been disbursed to women. The meeting was convened by Dr. Shehla Javed Akram, Founder President of Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lahore Division.
Aug 4, 2020 – Islamabad: Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation convened virtual meetings with the leadership of both the partner banks, Habib Bank of Pakistan Limited and Bank Alfalah at Ehsaas offices in Islamabad. The consultative meetings explored ways to promote use of digital wallets during the Ehsaas Emergency Cash disbursements to promote financial inclusion, which Ehsaas regards as a key pillar of poverty graduation.
Aug 3, 2020 – Islamabad: At the 11th Korea – SAARC Partnership Seminar convened by the Government of Korea on the theme of public health and poverty alleviation in the time of COVID-19, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar outlined how the Government of Pakistan addressed both the COVID-19 health issue and its socio-economic fall out. Highlighting the experience of Ehsaas Emergency Cash in her keynote address via video link, Dr. Nishtar said, “We are committed to addressing rising inequality and attainment of Sustainable Development Goals in a post COVID-19 world.” Footage can be accessed here.
2 August 2020: Heartfile and colleagues recently published an op-ed in the Dawn newspaper entitled “COVID-19 and Pakistan’s raging NCD crises”. The op-ed highlights the dangerous interlinkages between NCDs and CoVID-19 and stresses the need to address the NCD crises – the leading cause of death in Pakistan and a source of vulnerability to severe illness from COVID-19.
Aug 2, 2020 -Peshawar: On the second day of Eid, Dr. Sania Nishtar, PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation visited the Ehsaas Langarkhana (soup kitchen) in Peshawar to meet and greet labourers. Her appearance was a pleasant surprise for labourers present at the Langarkhana. She interacted with people and listened to their issues. “Sitting with labourers and seeing first-hand what Ehsaas Langar does to feed those who could not travel back to their homes to celebrate Eid with families is really touching,” said Dr. Nishtar. Ehsaas Langar in Peshawar provides cooked food to 1,200 people on daily basis. This free food facility is situated in front of the main bus terminal in Peshawar to serve labourers and daily wage earners.