Asian Development Bank powers Pakistan with $603mn for Ehsaas program

04:17 PM | 8 Dec, 2021
Asian Development Bank powers Pakistan with $603mn for Ehsaas program

ISLAMABAD – The Asian Development Bank has approved a $603 million lending program to strengthen Pakistan’s social protection program.

A statement issued by the Philippines-based development bank said it will provide a regular loan of $600 million and a $3 million grant under the Integrated Social Protection Development Program. It mentioned administering a $24 million grant from the Education Above All Foundation.

It further added that the program will support the implementation of Pakistan’s national social protection and poverty reduction strategy.

The program marks a significant shift in Asian Development Bank’s strategic engagement in the social protection space in Pakistan in line with Ehsaas priorities, the bank Director General for Central and West Asia Yevgeniy Zhukov said.

Zhukov added that ADB’s support will consequently help reduce intergenerational poverty through human capital development and will transition from unconditional cash transfers, that provide income support, to a mixed-modality approach that focuses more on conditional cash transfers for education, health services, and nutritional supplies.

The statement further added that the program also supports improvements in implementation and fiduciary capacity for Pakistan’s social protection programs.

The program backs the social protection program’s goal of expanding cash transfers to improve access to primary and secondary education, especially for girls, and enhancing health services and nutrition for women, adolescent girls, and poor children.

It also aims to initiate coverage of accelerated learning programs at primary education level for overaged out-of-school children under conditional cash transfers.

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Following the development, Prime Minister’s aide for Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar said “ADB is a trusted and longstanding partner. This program is the result of years of engagement with ADB and other partners and focuses on areas where we believe the bank can have most impact. It is a key priority under the government’s Ehsaas strategy”.

She also mentioned that this program incentivizes parents to send their children to schools, particularly girls, and will help to provide specialized nutritious food and conditional cash transfers to children and mothers in the districts of Pakistan that most need it”.