Sindh govt approves Rs4 billion to reduce poverty

Selected districts are already declared ‘calamity-hit’ due to low rainfall


Our Correspondent October 06, 2018
Street children on a sidewalk. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh government approved on Friday provision of funds worth Rs4 billion for a poverty reduction programme which was initiated in the province on a pilot-basis nine years ago. According to officials, this intervention will cover Umerkot, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Khairpur, Badin and Thatta districts. The Sindh government has already declared these areas ‘calamity-hit’ due to low rainfall in the outgoing monsoon season.

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The funds were approved during a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah at the Chief Minister House. Officials in the Sindh government said that six districts have been selected in the first phase of the programme while it will be replicated in around 16 districts with a total investment of Rs14.2 billion. “This decision has been taken in light of the PPP [Pakistan Peoples Party] manifesto. It [aims to] develop a good impact in the rural areas,” the CM said.

The meeting was attended by Planning and Development Chairperson Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to the CM Sajjid Jamal Abro, Sindh Rural Support Organisation Chairperson (SRSO) Shoaib Sultan Khan, SRSO Chief Executive Officer Dittal Kalhoro and other concerned officers.

The chief minister said that the provincial government has already launched the Rs3.36 billion Union Council Based Poverty Reduction Progrmme (UCBPRP) with specific objectives to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of the poor and marginalised communities through social mobilisation, capacity development, asset creation and income generation.

He said that the programme was a symbol of the performance of the provincial government in service delivery to the poorest rural population through social mobilisation.  It aims to empower the local communities by socially and economically enabling them to improve their livelihood and increase their earnings through the Income Generating Grants (IGG) and a community fund giving interest-free loans.

Shah termed the programme as unique. According to him, it has focused on women empowerment and livelihood of the poorest households, identified through a scientific survey.

“This not only gives them the confidence in their ability and direct exposure to the market, but also enables them to become economically independent,” he said.

The chief minister said that the programme not only focuses on social sector improvement by addressing the indicators of health, poverty, environment, social security, shelter, employment and basic livelihood, but also helps achieve the objectives and targets of universally-accepted Sustaiable Development Goals — of which Pakistan is a signatory.

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Initially launched in only two districts - Shikapur and Kashmore - on a pilot basis in 2009 for a period of 30 months, the programme achieved its desired objectives of organising households into a community and providing rural communities a common platform to discuss and resolve socio-economic issues.

Realising the importance of mobilising communities for collective action and for sustained reduction in poverty, the programme was further extended to two more districts — Jacobabad and Tharparkar — in 2010 with an allocation of more than Rs2 billion.

Waseem, briefing the meeting about the UCBPRP, said that it achieved great success in these four districts. It included coverage of 175 union councils, organistions of 343,084 households at community and village level and distribution of income generation grants and interest-free loans to 10,043 and 112,406 households respectively.

He said that under the programme, 9,072 low cost housing units were provided to shelter-less households, 1,124 households were supplied water, 34,211 persons were imparted vocational training, 114,328 households were provided protection of micro-health insurance plan, 195 schools were made functional and 43 small villages were rehabilitated.

Waseem said that considering the success of the programme, the project is being expanded to another six districts. This scheme is being implemented through SRSO.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2018.

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