ISLAMABAD: Benzair Income Support Program (BISP) and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) on Tuesday inked an MOU to alleviate poverty and to implement Poverty Graduation strategy across Pakistan. In total, 320,000 households representing over 2 million individuals will be the beneficiaries of this partnership. The main intervention will also include Social Mobilization and the beneficiaries will be identified by using the tool of Poverty Score Card. The collaboration between both the institutions ensures mutual cooperation for joint ventures to graduate the poor, especially living in extreme poverty zones of the country. Initiating the word, Chairperson BISP said “We are looking forward to this collaboration and hope to achieve the SDG indicators against poverty.” She further added that the fresh NSER data of completed pilot districts will be provided for this programme as well. She hoped that it will help in achieving the goal of BISP for its beneficiaries to graduate them out of poverty. In collaboration with IFAD and Government of Pakistan, PPAF is implementing National Poverty Graduation Programme (NPGP) in 17 districts across Pakistan. NPGP aims to assist the ultra-poor and very poor in graduating out of poverty on a sustainable basis; simultaneously improving their overall food security, nutritional status and resilience to climate change. As per this MOU, the cooperation will include efforts for alleviating poverty through joint efforts. The poverty graduation model will cost around US$ 130.98 Million for three main components i.e. Asset Creation, Interest Free Credit and Training of Livelihood. The NPGP allows distribution of assets to 156,240 households in 372 Union Councils across the country. Secretary BISP, Omar Hamid Khan stated, “We are glad to have this partnership with PPAF,” and recognized the efforts of PPAF for poverty alleviation in the country, especially in the provision of microfinance to the lower income groups. He hoped that this initiative will be another big step towards poverty eradication.” He further suggested that the research teams of BISP and PPAF should collaborate on data collection and sharing, monitoring, evaluation and research to jointly see the impact of poverty graduation programme. Qazi Azmat Isa, CEO PPAF said “We’re trying to ensure gender component through this programme while focusing marginalized and vulnerable segments of society for graduating out of poverty.” He added that until now 77 countries around the world have adopted graduation strategy and among those, PPAF is introducing this innovative strategy for poverty graduation. Published in Daily Times, March 14th 2018.