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BISP: Combating the Challenge

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ARTICLE  : Various reputed international bodies including UN have termed the challenge of rescue and rehabilitation in Pakistan after unprecedented and devastating flood scenario; much bigger than the situation arise as a result of 2004 Tsunami. Hence, to combat the challenge, an appropriate response both at national and international levels was need of hour, keeping in view the gravity of the crises.

Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), has yet again responded the situation rapidly by taking effective measures aiming to ease down the sufferings of millions of the flood affected families, already living in abject poverty. The timely initiative of the BISP was focused on much needed emergency relief.

Fortunately, more than six million flood-affected individuals are already registered by virtue of being part of BISP s beneficiaries family and identifying them to provide immediate relief was relatively an easier task.

Responding the urgency, less time consuming mechanisms were opted so that provision of emergency relief comprising Rs 12,000 per family as livelihood cash grant could be make possible to these flood affected beneficiaries of the BISP. This grant is in addition to regular monthly income support and will be distributed in three monthly grant of Rs 4000 month.

Till the end of the second week of the September 2010, in total, a sum of Rs 4.46 billion had already been dispatched for disbursement in more than one million families across Pakistan. This cash grant is being termed as absolutely imperative to enable the victims to relocate themselves before any rehabilitation or recovery operation could start.

Meanwhile, various international organisations including the World Bank have hinted to join hands with the BISP in relief efforts as well as its other pro-poor initiatives, especially, the steps being taken to promote early child education and girls education in

On other hand, BISP is also striving hard to improve the mechanism and effectiveness of its regular initiatives. Its fundamental programme Monthly Cash Support has already proven its role in combating abject poverty. It is the third largest allocation in the current budget and constitutes 0.3 percent of the GDP and it will cover up to 15 percent of the population in low-income bracket in the entire country.

For families earning Rs 5000 per month to Rs 6000 per month, the Rs 1000 pay out will amount to a 16 to 20 percent increase in their current purchasing power. However, beside provision of cash grant as life-line, BISP has planned to bring about real change in the life of these downtrodden families. One of such initiative, Waseela-e-Haq, aiming to break the vicious cycle of poverty through interest free financial assistance. This step would enable the selected families to initiate enhance businesses and entrepreneurship among the marginalised; thus, helping them to come out of poverty circle. The selection of these families is being done by computerised transparent balloting process.

The step is basically designed to promote self-employment among women beneficiaries or their nominees to improve their livelihood. It offers Rs 300, 000 long-term interest free financial assistance to randomly selected beneficiaries. It is based on personal trust instead of any collateral and is a completely interest free financial assistance as well as premise that marginalised families have skills, which remain unutilised and untapped.

The facility is alternative to the conventional banking system, which rejects the poor after classifying them non-creditable. Similarly, Waseela-e-Hunar, another initiative of BISP aims to empower female beneficiary or her nominee to become economically independent through acquiring demand-driven vocational skill and technical education. It offers recognised training format leading to certificate-based skill as well as non-recognised training such as in-house or product-based training under the BISP.

Waseela-e-Hunar leads towards capacity building and professional development. Under the initiative, trainees would be offered vocational trainings of 4 weeks, 3-6 months and one year while an advanced diploma programmes of two or more years will be initiated. BISP has planned to provide a complete economic rehabilitation mechanism to these families through vocational training. The programme would be pursued by guidance, counselling, and training facilities through recognised and reputed training institutions.

Another landmark step to lessen the sufferings of the underprivileged segments of the society is provision of heath facilities under Waseela-e-Sehat. The programme envisioned to improve access to health services and reducing income loss of the already marginalised due to health related expenditure.

According to various survey reports, more than 70 percent people in
Pakistan, seek better quality health care privately and pay out of their pockets. This phenomenon results as added financial burden on the poor and inequitable access to quality health care for the vulnerable.

To respond this complex situation, BISP is all set to launch this initiative and initially poverty survey in 16 districts has already been completed. The major thrust of the programme is to keep mother and child healthy by increasing access to health care and to provide financial cushion to vulnerable families against high medical expenditure. Moreover, it aims to improve quality of public health care system for Minimum Service Delivery Standards (MSDS).

Waseela-e-Sehat Package for deserving families includes full hospitalisation, cover to pre-existing diseases and all age groups with a maximum benefit cap of Rs 25,000 per family per year. For the practical execution of the programme, Benazir Health Cards would be issued to the families enrolled with BISP under monthly cash grant programme.

These Initiatives of the BISP would surely be instrumental in instigating sense of self-worth for the people. As a new forward-looking step, Poverty Survey to identify the deserving families for BISP monthly income support is being made to make the process further transparent. BISP has decided to conduct survey in flood-hit areas of the country on priority basis, so that vulnerable families in these areas could be provided with immediate relief.



Courtesy: Business Recorder

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