Islamabad: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Dr. Sania Nishtar on Wednesday announced that the Ehsaas Nashonuma program would be up-scaled nationwide to all districts during the current fiscal year.
She made these remarks while talking to media after chairing a meeting of the Ehsaas Nashonuma steering committee to review results of an independent evaluation on Ehsaas Nashonuma program conducted by the Agha Khan University.
The purpose of the research was to understand how Ehsaas Nashonuma had influenced the health and wellbeing of beneficiaries along with the enabling and impeding factors related to the uptake of Ehsaas Nashonuma, the process, outcomes, and the flow of operations.
The evidence from the evaluation is critical to decide about the up-scaling of Ehsaas Nashonuma, and impact evaluation of the combination of conditional cash transfers with specialized nutritional food which had already been conducted prior to the commencement of Ehsaas Nashonuma as a pilot project in 15 districts where 50 centres are now operational.
The results were highly encouraging and the findings were supportive of the program focus on marginalized women, their financial empowerment and improved dietary knowledge.
Evaluation specifies considerable buy in by beneficiaries and a smooth and transparent process of Ehsaas Nashonuma implementation.
The report highlighted how the program facilitated access to healthcare utilization and improved diets for beneficiary women and their children and how the rule-based procedures were followed for identification of beneficiaries and dispatching of diet and conditional cash transfer.
As many as 99.37 per cent of beneficiary women reported satisfaction from Nashonuma services provided to them during their pregnancy as well as those extended to their children for their growth and wellbeing.
The steering committee was attended by provincial representatives and members of the international development community.
Director General-Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Special Secretaries from Punjab, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir appreciated the program and validated the on-ground impact from their insights.
Some important recommendations were made with regard to the revised design which will be used in the scale-up particularly with reference to the introduction of mobile units and they need to emphasize on awareness creation.
There was also a strong recommendation to increase the size of the Nashonuma cash stipend.
Currently, Ehsaas Nashonuma provides Rs1,500 for boys and Rs2,000 for girls and the recommendation was to increase the stipend amounts which the steering committee approved.
Ehsaas Nashonuma will be integrated with all One Window Ehsaas Centers , Dr. Sania said.
The program is critical to address the issue of stunting in children as according to the national nutrition survey 40 out of 100 children in Pakistan are stunted.
Therefore, Ehsaas Nashonuma, the conditional cash transfer program will play an important role in building human capital.
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