Cattle, rickshaws, and pushcarts: What is Ehsaas Amdan programme?

Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the Ehsaas Amdan (Income) programme on February 21, one of the several initiatives under the umbrella of the flagship Ehsaas programme.
What is the Ehsaas Amdan Programme?
The objective of the Ehsaas Amdan programme is to create livelihood opportunities for those that are most disadvantaged. The programme involves giving away 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, pushcarts and inputs for small retail outlets and small enterprises. This will help the poor and downtrodden to generate their own income within their neigbourhood.
Why commodities rather than cash?
The programme is different from other financial-inclusive initiatives as it provides goods rather than cash. It has been observed that cash amounts are given to people who have no intention to return or utilised for the purpose for which they were taken.
This is different for the poor segments of society. Worldwide research has shown that the poor are more likely to return smaller amounts such as in microfinance problems. These people often think about the borrowed amounts and ensure their debts are paid as they cannot offer any collateral.
The government has decided to provide these small assets and commodities to set up small entreprises and empower them. Cash handouts are often used on basic households needs and they fall into greater debts while items will be more useful.
Where is the programme available?
The programme is commencing in 375 rural Union Councils in 23 of the poorest districts across the four provinces of Pakistan. The programme has set a target of providing around 200,000 assets to the deserving households (60 percent women and 30 percent youth beneficiaries). The scale of the programme will be enhanced based on the results.
The beneficiaries are identified through a community engagement process in the 375 Union councils and villages of 23 districts where this program has begun. Districts in Punjab where this program is commencing include Dera Ghazi Khan, Jhang, and Layyah. In Khyber Pakhthukhwa, there are ten districts including 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 in which three parameters were taken into consideration, ‘level of human development, poverty, and food insecurity. The districts which ranked lowest were included in the first wave of the programme.
Who is leading the programme?
Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) which is an organisation attached to the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division is the lead implementing agency for the Ehsaas Amdan programme and is working through implementing partner organizations that have a strong presence in the selected districts.
Community procurement processes have been established by PPAF to ensure transparency and accountability in the identification, selection and procurement of all assets or vocational skills training. Those beneficiaries that require vocational training are supported to attend courses offered by certified technical training institutes.
Other Ehsaas programmes
This programme compliments Ehsaas Kafaalat, which commenced on January 31, and through which the government will provide cash stipends of Rs 2000 to around seven million most deserving women by the end of the year. The beneficiaries for both the Kafaalat program and Ehsaas Amdan (Income) program are identified through a survey using the Poverty Score Card so that only the most deserving are identified.
Training and other facilities
Training on asset utilisation and business planning are 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 require additional financing for business enhancement.
Welfare state
The programme lies with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to establish an ‘Islamic welfare state’ in the country. It is the responsibility of the government to provide means of income to the most disadvantaged section of society.
The prime minister has immense experience in welfare activities. He has raised the largest number of funds for welfare projects and established a state-of-the-art cancer hospital in the country. He is undoubtedly the biggest philanthropist in the country and experience is now being put to the test as he is now in power. This is an excellent initiative which should be appreciated and will help people living below the poverty line.
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