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Coronavirus
LOW Source: covid.gov.pk
Pakistan Deaths
28,704
724hr
Pakistan Cases
1,283,886
41124hr
0.92% positivity
Sindh
475,097
Punjab
442,876
Balochistan
33,471
Islamabad
107,601
KPK
179,888

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan responded immediately to pandemic-stricken poor through Emergency Cash Transfer Programme and great results were achieved through this support; and there is room for further improvement.

This is stated in an article, “Asian Development Bank and World Bank join forces for a resilient recovery in South Asia” published on their website.

The article stated that Pakistan’s government quickly responded to the pandemic by nearly tripling its cash transfer programme for poor women to 15 million beneficiaries.

This was possible because the country has invested in programmes like Benazir Income Support Program and Ehsaas Kafalat.

These programs are one of South Asia's largest social safety net systems.

The Ehsaas Kafalat program relies on the National Socio-Economic Registry, a database covering 85 percent of the population.

While great results were achieved through this support, there's room for further improvement.

It further stated that the Ehsaas program is a great example of how safety net systems, enhanced through digital connectivity, can reach the poorest and the most vulnerable in times of crisis.

Those in need use a text message and their national identification number to apply for Ehsaas help.

Biometrics verify an applicant's identity before payments are issued.

The system is data-driven, automated, and politically neutral. It further stated that a move towards a dynamic system for updating the National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) and integration among social programme databases will help keep targeting data current and ensure a two-way flow of information.

Besides avoiding duplication of effort, a centralised and integrated social registry would also provide data for informed decisions regarding socio-economic policies and initiatives.

A World Bank project currently under preparation will help the social registry evolve to reflect the changing circumstances of the poor, including a localised automated system for people to easily and frequently update their data and allow that data to flow into support programmes.

Mobile technology and big data analytics will assess needs and determine eligibility.

The outcome will be a more dynamic registry that remains up to date and ready to respond to crises.

The ADB is also setting up a policy research unit that will use evidence-based information to continue fine-tuning and improving social protection systems.

The ADB supported the Ehsaas program through its $300 million emergency assistance project and $500 million Covid-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program, both coordinated closely with the World Bank's budget support to Pakistan.

Under a new country partnership strategy for Pakistan for 2021-2025, the ADB aims to continue to support the Ehsaas programme to break the intergenerational transmission of poverty through conditional cash transfers to improve education, health, and nutrition outcomes.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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