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BISP beneficiaries increased from 1.7m to 5.4m: report

ISLAMABAD: The Benazir Income Support Programme, being one of the largest in South Asia and serving 5.29 million beneficiaries, has been able to reduce poverty rate in the country by seven percentage points based on Food Energy Intake (FEI), says the ‘BISP Impact Evaluation Report’ released here on Tuesday.

However, this would have only a ‘weak impact’ on the poverty gap while using the Cost of Basic Needs (CBN) poverty line as a reference. BISP is associated with a reduction in the poverty gap by three percentage points, but does not have a statistically significant impact on the poverty rate, the quantitative and qualitative research conducted for the third round of the impact of BISP by the Oxford Policy Management explains.

According to the third party evaluation report, the proportion of beneficiary households who were multi-dimensional poor in 2013 categorised as severely multi-dimensional poverty index (MPI) poor was 31, whereas in 2016 this has reduced to 23 per cent.

President Mamnoon Hussain launched the evaluation report at a ceremony, urging BISP to reach out to the segment of the poor who have not yet been reached and take new measures to make self-dependent those who are already benefiting from the social safety net.

BISP chairperson Marvi Memon, while speaking on the occasion, stated that since 2013 the PML-N government had increased budgets for BISP from Rs40 billion to Rs115bn. She said the number of beneficiaries had increased from 1.7 to 5.4m and the quarterly stipend increased from Rs3,000 to Rs4,834.

The report lauded the good targeting mechanism of BISP as 91pc of its beneficiaries were either ultra poor, poor or vulnerable to being poor in 2016 as defined by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics with low literacy rate of only 9pc.

The report states that BISP has induced a net increase of Rs187 in per adult monthly consumption expenditure whereas the per adult equivalent monthly food consumption increased by Rs69 driven by high quality protein. In terms of child nutrition, the report indicates a reduction in proportion of wasted girls and decrease in malnutrition among girls.

‘Waseela-i-Taleem’ initiative under BISP has a positive and significant impact on primary school enrolment. School attendance deprivation on multi-dimensional poverty index (MPI) indicator has reduced from 56pc in 2013 to 49pc in 2016 due to BISP. The initiative, a conditional cash transfer of Rs750 per quarter for a child enrolled in school with at least 70pc attendance has enrolled 1.3m primary school children till date.

As per the evaluation report, women empowerment indicators have highly improved because of BISP. The evaluation report indicates a positive impact of BISP on status of women and their mobility as more women were allowed to travel freely to various localities alone.

Proportion of beneficiary women who can visit market alone has gone up from 25pc in 2011 to 37pc in 2016. Due to collection of cash transfer this mobility has increased and is also having an effect on independence of women other than the beneficiaries. The constitution of 55,000 beneficiary committees has contributed much towards women empowerment through BISP.

BISP brought 5.4m women voters on electoral list by providing them CNICs. In 2011 just 40pc of women in beneficiary households reported that they were likely to vote whilst in 2016 this number has risen to 70pc, showing massive change in implementation of democratic rights.

The report indicates that BISP has resulted in a decrease in the deprivations against indicators of living standards in terms of quality of flooring and cooking fuel used in their households. A positive impact has been recorded on asset retention and accumulation.

There has been an increase in proportion of beneficiary households that own small livestock. This is significant because livestock is a productive investment and also valuable for those families with low financial access.

courtesy : dawn news

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