Thursday, August 9, 2012

PAF plans to address rising urban poor

The increasing urban poverty incidence has made Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) start focusing on the urban poor too, besides shifting its focus on socio-economic transformation from the current programmes that have been providing the poor 'relief' only.
"Unlike earlier understanding, the urban poverty incidence has almost doubled compelling the fund to work for the urban poor too," said vice chair of the fund Janak Raj Joshi.
According to the third Nepal Living Standard Survey (NLSS), urban poverty has increased significantly from what was recorded in the second survey. The urban population living below the poverty line was 21.55 per cent in fiscal year 1995-96 — during the first Nepal Living Standard Survey — which fell to 9.55 per cent in fiscal year 2003-04 — in the second Nepal Living Standard Survey — but the figure rose to 15.46 per cent in the third survey in fiscal year 2009-10. Similarly, the urban poverty gap has also increased to 3.19 per cent in the third survey from 2.20 per cent in the second survey.
"To address the rising urban poor, the fund is planning to add programmes in its third phase programme," he said, adding that the fund has, however, already started the programme with 69 squatter households recently evacuated from the Bagmati river banks.
The government agency is the largest community development programme targeting poor women, Dalits, Janjatis and other marginalised groups since its establishment in 2004. But the current programme — second phase — will come to an end in mid-2014 and the fund has now added socio-economic transformation programme shifting from the current programme that has helped them provide 'relief' only from economic troubles, said Joshi, adding that the target will be to train the poor on entrepreneurship skills so that they can contribute to capital formation.
The donor — World Bank — has also given a green signal to the fund for the support of the third phase programme. "It's time to begin thinking about how PAF III would look like," World Bank has told the fund that has received $215 million in grants from the World Bank since 2004.
The World Bank Nepal Office has also promised to offer technical support for providing poverty identity card for the poor and establishment of an oversight agency for poverty that the board will pass tomorrow.
The fund is planning to distribute three different cards for the poor based on their status — the lowest 10 quintile, 20 quintile and 30 quintile — to provide them preferential treatment on education, health, water and sanitation, and various other facilities that the government can afford to give.

The road ahead
Quantitative Indicator of Poverty — in 2010 — Target 2015 (under MDG)
Population having income less than $1-a-day — 19.7 per cent — 17 per cent
Population below poverty line — 25.16 per cent — 21 per cent
Employed population with less than $1-a-day income — 22 per cent — 17 per cent
Population having food less than minimum requirement — 36.1 per cent — 25 per cent
(Source: Central Bureau of Statistics)

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