Pakistan’s COVID-19 Response: Getting Rations to the Needy

As is often the case with solutions, it is the simplest ones that are the most elegant and applicable. Problem statement is as follows: delivery of food or rations to needy in urban and in rural areas.

Solution can be as follows: use the local kiryana-stores and hawkers supplemented by mohalla and village volunteers.

Constraints to be overcome include the following: identifying the needy; keeping basic food and household consumer goods supply chains operational; avoid people to people physical contact; avoid lines and congregations; avoid prompting households to leave homes.

I must have forgotten some, but I narrow down the problem as to how unpaid distribution of such rations can be managed. The assumption here is that such rations will preclude perishables.

Almost every community knows its needy—by and large. Exceptions are the sprawling urban and peri-urban kothis’ based neighborhoods, like in Islamabad and in the Bahrias and DHAs of this country’s many large cities. We should use the mosques and the mohalla committees and the community and village and union-council based organizations to do the targeting. This also holds for all katchi-abadis and other illegal settlements. These sources can be farmed using smart phones or regular phones with IVR type technology.

Once needy are identified the aim should be delivery to the doorstep. For this to happen the government can through the army utilize local kiryana-stores and other small to medium general merchandise stores in urban and rural localities as the source points for the deliveries to originate from. Utility stores can also be coopeted and so can the armed forces CSDs. These locations can be geo-tagged for ease of ensuring the supply chain. Supply chains and related logistics can be ensured through a communion of army and civil logistics and depots of such supplies can be martialed by force if required. This entire exercise, if crowd sourced, can cover Pakistan in two weeks or thereabouts. Deliveries can be started in one to two days in without waiting for the overall exercise to complete.

Once these lowest distribution points are established these rations can be delivered through the store employees and mobile-vendors, thereby creating a second tier benefit of employment continuity through food-for-work or cash-for-work options for these delivery agents. These delivery agents can be supplemented through army and other civil agencies lead and coordinated through a single entity throughout Pakistan (also read We can also request the National Incubation Centers and the Digital Pakistan effort to attempt technological innovations to supplement these delivery agents and this overall approach.

Published by #empowerpakistanbyazd

Amer Zafar Durrani is the President of Reenergia and Paidartwanai. He is an acknowledged development expert and entrepreneur with thirty five years of global experience spanning more than twenty four countries—of which almost 18 years were spent with the World Bank Group. His present work keeps him engaged in Pakistan, China, Somalia, South Sudan, Kenya, Philippines, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan amongst others. He is now based in Pakistan and developing Reenergia as first of its’ kind ‘do-tank’—innovating and delivering solutions for improving lives while making a profit. In parallel, he has set up Paidartwanai Private Limited, an energy supply and consulting company with a mission to develop sustainable provision and consumption of energy through increasingly distributed and renewable energy systems. Amer is also a Senior Fellow at Pakistan Institute of Development Economists. He is also the Industry Co-Chair on the Energy Corporate Advisory Council in National University of Sciences and Technology, and a partner to NJHR, Geopolicity and RIZ Consulting. He continues supporting, through Reenergia, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), International Trade Center (ITC), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank Group, and the United Nations Office for Project Services, amongst many global organizations. In his personal capacity, he has been lecturing at the National Defense College and University (Islamabad), National School of Public Policy and University of Birmingham. He frequently appears as invited special guest in Media (TV and Radio) on issues relating to public policy and is a regularly speaker on various other international and local forums. Amer speaks Urdu, English, Punjabi, and can has working knowledge of Arabic, Russian and Dari-Persian. He is a graduate of the University of Texas, Austin, USA and has trained at the National Defense University, Pakistan and Lahore University of Management Sciences. He can be reached at and

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