In Pakistan, approximately 30 percent of the people live below the poverty line and it is one of the most horrifying issues faced by majority of the individuals. The domestic, social, or societal problems of Pakistan are known to everybody. A nation where citizens are deprived of basic rights such as food, roof over their heads, education and health, are compelled to be a part of criminal activities such as robbery, terrorism, begging, gambling, suicide, selling of organs, and many other common practices. Ehsaas program is a great initiative taken the by the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to provide the basic fundamental rights of the citizen.
This program was announced by Prime Minister on March 27th, 2019 at the launch ceremony of Ehsaas program that took place in Islamabad. Mr. Prime Minister believes that this initiative is a step closer to his aim of building a Riyasat-e-Madina. He identified this program as one of the boldest and most needed plan which will work for the welfare of the neglected and downtrodden. Imran Khan further elaborated that this plan can only work with the collaboration and support of the privileged. The government will be working with all the stakeholders, public, private, expatriate Pakistanis, influencers, activists and philanthropists. The first change that this program aims to bring is the provision of food, shelter, clothing and education to every citizen as a fundamental need with the amendment of Article 38D of the constitution. The program is based on four pillars;
- Equality and a fair system
To combat the underlying issues in Pakistan, the program will foremost focus on the inequality and unfair system which provides all the necessities to the elite, be it better education, health facilities, exception from law and order, crop choices, property and land choices or availability of food. The polices ever made in any tenure have only helped the rich and worsen the situation of the poor.
Firstly, the data was collected to identify the target and demand. The national socio-economic registry collects the data of households at grass root level for future targeting. Imran khan also made amendments to the article 38D and moved it from the Principles of Policy to fundamental rights section. Under the first pillar, all organizations working on the Ehsaas program will be brought under one umbrella under a one-window social protection operation. This will help assist beneficiaries of social protection and reduce duplication and abuse of the system. In addition to this, Rs.80 billion were planned to be added in social protection spending in the budget for fiscal year 2019-20.
- Security and safety nets
Based on the data collected from socio-economic registry, the government will identify the real poor by double check and thorough survey. To roll out further, certain programs were created to provide financial support, loans, accessibility to facilities
Kafalat: A plan where women will be given their own saving accounts and digital Hubs will be launched across the country to help women and youth access to the jobs available.
Tahafuz: This will provide one-time support or financial aid to the needful. Landless farmers or other citizens can also get loans through this protection. It will also provide financial assistance to widows, handicapped citizens or people who are unable to earn on their own.
Welfare for elderly: This includes the development of Great Ehsaas Old Age Home, a welfare to provide shelter, food and protection of old age citizens. This also includes the increment old age benefit and minimum pension for old age citizens.
Other people such as labor, their issues and minimum wage are also included in this protection plan. The protection and facilitation of overseas Pakistani also comes under this pillar of the Ehsaas program.
- Human capital development and education
Human capital is a great contributor in the success of any nation. Considering the advancements technically and scientifically in the global world, it is important that we provide our children with relevant education and give them the training. The aim of this plan is to invest in the early days of the children, such as dealing with malnutrition, early education, child protection from harm or sexual assault, and empowerment of women. It also includes increasing the budget for the National Education Foundation so that there’s no hurdle in the policy implementation. It also offers the following:
- Free e-learning content for students.
- The conditional cash transfer program.
- Second chance program for overaged girls in schools, colleges, and universities.
- Need-based undergraduate scholarships for students from low-income families.
- Vocational training for girls and women.
- Jobs and livelihood:
Unemployment is another raging issue in Pakistan which has given rise to several criminal activities on different levels. Employment generation has always been Prime Minister Imran Khan’s focus and thus the program will improvise the Solutions Innovation challenge and venture capitalism. Easy and interest free loans will be provided for entrepreneurship.
Following are some examples of the Solutions innovation challenge;
- The traditional cart or popularly known ‘thela’ will be reinvented and made fancier to increase its income by attracting more customers.
- For daily wagers to meet their monthly or weekly expenses for groceries or utilities, a micro-credit facility will be launched.
- Platforms will be launched where women can utilize their talent and earn while staying at home.
- To develop a rickshaw garbage collector which can create livelihoods, as well as improve water & sanitation-related problems.
Ehsaas will also launch ‘Ehsaas platforms for daily wage workers’, an online daily wage platform that provides opportunities to skilled or semi-skilled workers to earn a wage. Ehsaas has initiated a procurement process for receiving proposals for development of the platform. Moreover, Relevant skills and training will be provided to students via digital Pakistan and president’s Initiative to teach artificial intelligence. The students will be able to excel in all fields, technology, science, arts, medicine, and artificial intelligence. The skills will not be only utilized locally but exported to other countries so the students will have an exposure of international markets as well.
Some other notable initiatives under this program are explained below;
Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program:
Looking at the situation globally, covid19 has stalled the economic activity and this is considered to be the worst economical outbreak or recession the world is going to face. The pandemic led to the lockdown affecting the businesses, operation and other daily activities, affecting daily wagers the most. This initiative is helping those individual who are in direst need of help such daily wage workers, labor, maids and servants or laid off junior level employees.
Current Status of the program:
After all the struggles and hardships faced by the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program is a clear win for them. If we look into the history of social protection plans and initiatives, it always had been taken down by corruption and politicized decision-making. Considering the history, there is no doubt that this is the largest and most successful social protection program to be launched in Pakistan. Imran Khan launched the program on 18th May 2020.
First phase: The program is running successfully under the leadership of Dr. Sania Nishtar, chairperson of the Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council and Benazir Income Support Program. Under this program, a financial aid of Rs.12000 is provided to deserving families upon qualifying the criteria. Six weeks after the launch the government was able to distribute Rs. 112 billion to 9.2 million families and the program aims to help 80 million people with this initiative.
The most impressive part of this program is the transparency and openness which is why many people came forward to donate. The identification of beneficiaries was strictly data-driven with no space for human interference. Payments are done after biometric verification to prevent abuse and pilferage. An information portal was made public which outlined details about disbursements down to the Tehsil level (third tier at the sub-national level) with regard to the number of beneficiaries, bank disbursement details, accounts credited, and money withdrawn.
Second Phase: Government has launched the second phase of Ehsaas emergency cash program where the financial aid would be provided to the families affected by the Covid19 and the money will be taken from the covi19 relief fund.
Eligibility Criteria for Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program:
All daily wagers and labors can apply for Ehsaas Emergency Cash program. However, for Ehsaas Covid19 relief fund, only those are eligible who have a valid CNIC and have been affected by the coronavirus lockdown or none of their family member has availed this aid before. In addition, the applicant or the spouse of the application should be a government servant and should be availing any other funding scheme.
How to apply for the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program:
- To check your eligibility, you can send your CNIC to 8171.
- The team will verify your credentials and indicate you about your status.
- If you are not in the database, you will be requested to visit your district administration.
- However, you can also register yourself using the web portal.
- After accessing the link, https://ehsaas.nadra.gov.pk/Ehsaas/, type your CNIC number and write the code given in the image.
- Now click on “confirm” to check the eligibility.
- After that, type your mobile number and select your mobile operator.
- Finally, click the final confirm and register yourself for the program
In Step 2, you will be asked a few questions regarding your income level, number of member in your family, your monthly bills, contact info of your employer and your district and Tehsil. After entering all the information, you need to tick the box and click on “submit application”.
Once you submit the application online the message will appear that ‘Thank you for submitting your information we will update you after verifying the information.
Ehsaas Rashan Program:
Federal government launched the initiative to distribute rashan bags across the country. Apart from cash, the deserving families can also apply for rashan bags. You can apply for the program by the following method;
- Visit the official government’s website for Ehsaas rashan Program
- Fill out your information such as name, mobile number, CNIC, and district
- After filling, click on submit and submit your application for the program
- The applications will be surveyed and verified and Rashan bags will be then distributed.
- If you do not receive your rashan from the Ehsaas Ration Program in four days, you need to send an SMS to 4417 to inform the government
The government of Punjab also launched the Insaf Imdad Package to help the people of Punjab during these tough times of coronavirus. This initiative is more specific to a province so will be going in depth and make sure that all families are covered under it. Many other initiatives are running and operating hand-in-hand either under this Ehsaas program or along with this program. The main focus is to educate our people and eradicate the problem of poverty which has been only made worse by neglect and corruption.
The trust and support of local and overseas Pakistanis have made this initiative even a possibility. The extent to which people have believed the vision and came forward to support their Prime Minister speaks volume about the fraternity and compassion for each other. Keeping their trust intact, this initiative has so far been the most transparent and active program which has proven to help affected families during this virus.