Sindh govt launches Rs4bn poverty reduction programme

  • Programme to be expanded in 16 districts with cost of Rs14.2bn
  • Aimed at empowering women, poor in rural areas
  • Plan in accordance with Pakistan’s commitment to achieving SDGs, likely to provide 9,072 low-cost housing units

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah implementing manifesto of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) approved Rs4 billion for People Poverty Reduction Programme (PPRP) in six districts, whereas a similar programme is already in progress in 10 districts.

He took this decision on Friday while presiding over a meeting here at CM House. The meeting was attended by Planning & Development (P&D) Chairman Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to CM Sajjid Jamal Abro, Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO) Chairman Shoaib Sultan Khan, SRSO CEO Dittal Kalhoro and other concerned officers.

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

He said that with the start of Rs4 billion PPRP in six districts, the provincial government intervention for poverty reduction would spread over 16 districts with an investment of Rs14.2 billion. “This would definitely develop a good impact in the rural areas,” he said.

He maintained that the UCBPRP is a symbol of the performance of provincial government in terms of service delivery to the poorest rural population through social mobilisation to empower the local communities by socially and economically enabling them to improve their livelihood and increase their earnings through Income Generating Grants (IGG) and Community Fund, as is being given as an interest free loan under union council based poverty reduction programme.

He termed UCBPRP a unique plan which focuses on women empowerment and livelihood of poorest households, identified through a scientific survey, adding that the programme is the first ever major project of the provincial government that was being implemented through community participation. He further said that the programme is highly intensive in its development package and coverage and is concentrated at union council level

A hallmark of the programme is the development through social mobilisation which provides a great opportunity to the rural skilled women to produce and showcase their products by accessing the larger market in mega cities like Karachi, the chief minister said and added it was the first time that these ladies have had an opportunity to present and sell their products themselves without involving the middlemen.  “This, on the one hand, gives them the confidence in their ability and direct exposure of the market and on the other enables them to become economically better off and independent,” the CM said.

The chief minister said that the programme not only focuses on social sector improvement by directly addressing the indicators of health, poverty, environment, social security, shelter, employment and basic livelihood but also helps in achieving the objectives and targets of universally accepted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), of which Pakistan is a signatory.

He said that programme was initially launched in two districts Shikapur and Kashmore, Kandhkot districts on a pilot basis in 2009 for a period of 30 months. It achieved desired objectives of organising the households in community and village organisations by providing rural communities with a common platform to discuss and resolve socio-economic issues collectively, he said.

Realising the importance of mobilising communities for collective actions, to pool their resources for economies of scale and to build up group solidarity for sustained reduction in poverty the programme was further extended to two more districts, Jacobabad and Tharparkar in 2010 with an allocation of Rs2.009 billion.

P&D Chairman Mohammad Wasem briefing the meeting about the UCBPRP said that it achieved great success in four districts including Shikarpur, Kashmore, Jacoabad and Tharparkar. This included universal coverage of 175 union councils, organisations of 343,084 households at community and village level, giving 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 are to be provided to shelterless households, 1,124 households were given water supply schemes, 34,211 persons were imparted vocational training, 114,328 households have been 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 chief minister further expanded the programme to six districts, Umerkot, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Kahirpur, Badin and Thatta for Rs4.916 billion in 2017.

This scheme is being implemented through the Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO) led by Shoaib Sultan Khan.

The EU has also launched a similar programme named `Union Council and Community Economic Strengthening Support’ (SUCCESS) targeting reduction of poverty and enhancement of livelihoods in eight more districts by investing Rs8 billion.

Approving Rs4 billion, the chief minister PPRP said that the programme is being launched in 288 union councils of six districts of the province. The districts include Ghotki, Sukkur, Naushehroferoze, Benazirabad and rural Union Councils of Karachi and Hyderabad.