Tuesday, August 7, 2012

PAF to categorise poor for preferential treatment

Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) is planning to categorise the poor into three categories to make it easier for the government to provide them preferential treatment.
"We are planning to categorise the poor into three categories — the lowest 10 quintile
for those who do not have enough to eat for nine months, 20 quintile for those who donot have enough to eat for six months and 30 quintile for those who donot have enough to eat for three months below the poverty line — to make it easier to identify them and ensure their rights to avail benefits from the government, according to their status," said vice chair of the fund Janak Raj Joshi.
They could be identified through different colour cards, he said, adding that the categorisation will help provide preferential treatment on education, health, agriculture, water and sanitation, and skill development, and also make it easier to plan the targeted programmes.
The fund will finalise the timetable of the pilot programme on Friday and send it to the cabinet for final approval.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), some 25.16 per cent — a quarter of the total population of 26.6 million — live below the poverty line as they earn less than Rs 54 a day or Rs 19,261 per year, according to the new poverty line drawn by the third Nepal Living Standard Survey.
The national poverty line has been calculated on the basis of consumption which states that a person needs an intake of 2,220 calories per day. "The fund has accepted the CBS definition of poor — though there are various definitions of poverty — to start the pilot
programme, which, if everything goes as planned, will start from September 17," said Joshi.
The fund is planning to start the pilot programme from 15 wards of 15 districts — Taplejung, Khotang, Siraha, Rasuwa, Sindhuli, Rautahat, Mustang, Arghakanchhi, Kapilvastu, Kalikot, Rolpa, Bardiya, Bajura, Achham and Kailali — that includes all the three regions – Himalayan, Hilly and Terai, he said, adding that poverty alleviation is, however, a regular process and the fund has also envisioned a permanent Poverty
Oversight Agency that will harmonise all the poverty alleviation related programmes and direct, supervise, and monitor them on a regular basis. "But for the time being before the formation of the permanent oversight agency, PAF will look after all the pilot
programmes as a temporary oversight agency secretariat that will be established before August 15."
The Household Poverty Card will also be revised every five years on the basis of a survey, according to the vice chair.
Earlier, the government had asked the fund to prepare the distribution mechanism of identity cards for the poor according to the incumbent government's much-ambitious Immediate Action Plan.
The board meeting of the fund chaired by the prime minister had also formed two committees — direction and technical — to carry out the task under the leadership of vice chair of the fund Joshi and director general of Central Bureau of Statistics Uttam Narayan Malla, respectively. “The identification of the poor will help the government
reach them with targetted programmes and help them graduate out,” according to Joshi.
The meeting had also formed a five-member working group including representatives from National Planning Commission, Central Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Local Development, Ministry of Home, and PAF to assist the technical committee to suggest a methodology and approach to carry out the task of developing an acceptable standard
for identifying the poor.
"The Household Poverty Identification Card will be prepared in such a way that it could be used as a National Identity Card that the government is planning,” he added.

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