Azm-e-Nau, meaning a new age, is the reprioritization of development to a world that has fundamentally changed. Pakistan reported its first Coronavirus case in late February. A national lockdown followed as the number of cases surged across the country. The four months lockdown left the country on the brink of two concurrent crises— a health crisis and an economic crisis. 

The pandemic was so devastating that it pushed thousands of people down the poverty ladder. The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was quick to respond to the health emergency and created a joint task force of various departments to design a robust COVID-19 policy response. Amidst the dilemma of a complete and a partial lockdown, the provincial government stood by the policy directives of the Prime Minister - safeguarding lives and livelihoods. 

 

 

The Coronavirus outbreak not only burdened the provincial health care system but also had a lasting impact on livelihoods. It was at this critical juncture that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) collaborated with the KP’s Planning and Development Department (P&DD). The joint efforts were translated into a post-crisis economic recovery plan Azm-e-Nau”.

UNDP and P&DD have moved swiftly to ward off the economic and employment repercussions of the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Under “Azm-e-Nau”, the economic recovery will be ensured in a three-dimensional manner; creating short-term jobs, medium-term service delivery, and long-term developmental outputs.

 

These objectives will be pursued through 43 major interventions in nine key sectors to boost the economy in the short term and provide societal benefits in the long term.

The Rs 29 billion economic recovery plan spans over three years (2020-2023). The nine key sectors, referred to as “pillars” in the plan include economic growth, education, emergency response, governance, health, jobs for development, social protection, small and medium enterprises, and public works.

At this point, the funding mechanism of the recovery plan is quite flexible. The allocated amount of Azm-e-Nau is not fixed under the Provincial Government's Annual Development Programme (ADP) because the Provincial and the Merged Areas Annual Development Programs had already been finalized. The P&DD is considering taking on board development partners and donor agencies for financial and technical assistance on some of the interventions. Azm-e-Nau entails a comprehensive plan by the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which would also provide a framework to handle future emergencies of such scale in the province including the Merged Areas. Meanwhile, it has enabled the government to pinpoint the priority areas of focus for the allocations of public funds and dialogue with donor agencies.

“ I am hopeful than ever that under the capable leadership governing the province, the tireless efforts of the district authorities, the valuable assistance of our development partners, and the absolute resolve of our citizens, we will be able to put the economy of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa back on track”, says Mahmood Khan, Kyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister. 

 

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