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March 29, 2021

‘Ehsaas’ opens 11 new ‘Panagahs’

Islamabad

March 29, 2021

Islamabad : ‘Ehsaas’ has opened 11 ‘Panagahs’ (shelter homes) in the current quarter across different parts of the country including 5 ‘Panagahs’ (shelter homes) in Karachi, 4 in Quetta, Killa Abdullah, Gwadar and Lasbela districts of Balochistan, and one each in Skardu and Mardan districts of Gilgit Baltistan and KP respectively.

Drawing on proper need assessment, these shelter homes have been established in low-income neighbourhoods and the residential areas of migrant workers to reach maximum number of labourers. The concept of ‘Panagah’ emerges from Prime Minister’s vision of compassion to facilitate the destitute and helpless people, while upholding their self-respect. ‘Panagahs’ protect the people from extreme weather conditions and chilling temperatures.

Last year in August, the Prime Minister had entrusted the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division with the responsibility of improving quality standards within ‘Panagahs’. Since then, work was accelerated speedily, and a framework was developed to upgrade standards of all five ‘Panagahs’ in Islamabad as a starting point.

The Poverty division developed the policy framework and Paksitan Bait-ul-Mal was given responsibility for execution. “These ‘Panagahs’ provide one star+ bed and breakfast facility with meals, essentials, hygiene and security standards. And, each ‘Panagah’ serves free meals to around 500 people and offers 100-bed facility for overnight stay.

There is 24/7 camera surveillance, with power back-up, with clean sheets, fully functioning shared bathrooms with hot running water, self-service meals in dining halls 7 days a week and since meals were served in shifts. There is laundry and housekeeping service and mosque in every ‘panagah’”, said Senator and SAPM Dr Sania Nishtar “There are protocols for the need assessment to ensure ‘Panagahs’ open in the right place. The funding model is such that each ‘Panagah’ has its own account and government funding for essentials is ensured.

Accounts are set up to accept donations for every ‘Panagah’. In the new funding model, we mandated MOUs with NGOs and individuals that want to contribute in-kind so that the contributions are predictable at both ends. We embedded many integrity features in the donation model for ‘panagahs’—stipulating that no cash will be accepted on site at the ‘Panagah’ by staff or any other authority. And third-party audit is mandatory as per the ‘Ehsaas’ Governance and Integrity policy”, she further added.

As of Dec 31, 2020, all five ‘Panagahs’ in the federal capital had been upgraded. In Islamabad, ‘Ehsaas’ has also introduced a complimentary shuttle service to serve daily wage earners’ travel to the ‘Panagahs’, located on the outskirts of the city.

Reiterating ‘Ehsaas’ resolve to provide shelter to the non-resident labourers and piece rate workers, Dr. Sania stated, “Panagah is one of the priority programmes of Prime Minister Imran Khan. ‘Panagahs’ not only provide shelter to daily wage earners but also a two-time meal to them.

To ensure that people are served with utmost dignity and self-respect, ‘Ehsaas’ is providing training to the staff of ‘Panagahs’.” Further, she added, “Panagahs’ Initiative for low-income labourers is a giant step towards building a welfare state, who, otherwise, had to sleep on sidewalks in the harsh weather conditions.”