U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced today an American contribution of $85 million to the Government of Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto Income Support Program (BISP), that targets assistance to Pakistani women and families in need.
Secretary Clinton announced the U.S. contribution following her participation in the second monthly lottery hosted by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. The monthly lottery drawing, established in honor of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, provides cash loans of Rs. 300,000 ($3,600) for economically disadvantaged families to support income-generating entrepreneurship. The Secretary also helped distribute checks among the selected beneficiaries from September’s drawing.
In the spirit of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, for whom the program is named, the program aims to empower Pakistani women with households whose monthly income is less than Rs 6000 ($72). The program provides a lifeline for families who are struggling in the wake of rising food inflation. Every two months, the government sends checks of Rs 2000 ($24) to women across the country living in Pakistan’s poorest households.
To ensure the financial flow is transparent, the Pakistani government is selecting beneficiaries through a poverty targeting system developed by the World Bank, conducting monthly financial checks on payments and regular house-to-house checks to ascertain delivery of exact amounts to families.
The U.S. contribution is part of the $1 billion pledge made at the April 2009 Tokyo Donors’ Conference to support Pakistan’s development.