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Social Protection: WB Ranks Pakistan’s Ehsaas Programme 4th Largest By Coverage

Owing to its deeper and far reaching social welfare impact, Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme – an initiative by the incumbent government to counter not only poverty and inequality but socio-economic fallouts and shocks – has been recognized by World Bank among the world’s largest by coverage. According to WB’s well detailed report on global social protection amid Covid-19 – documenting 734 cash based measures in 186 countries – Pakistan ranks fourth globally in terms of the ‘number of people’ covered.

Ehsaas social protection program includes over 170 initiatives aimed at uplifting marginalized people, eradicating poverty, and supporting vulnerable households. Pakistan’s federal government announced a relief package worth Rs1.2 trillion in March 2020 “which has been almost fully implemented,” according to the report. Owing to well implemented schemes, Pakistan ranks 3rd globally in terms of ‘percentage of population’ covered.

According to the report, Pakistan’s social protection programme also ranked high in terms of “Planned” versus actual coverage rates. Having highest level of spending, the other three lower middle-income countries included Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Bolivia. The report notes that Rs12,000 stipend given to 15m households in Pakistan last year helped over 100m people – close to half of country’s population, representing the largest and most extensive social protection intervention ever in the history of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s anti poverty Ehsaas programme is digitally well capable to deliver cash through new biometric payment system, a demand side SMS-based request seeking platform and a new wealth-profiling big data analytics mechanism. Ehsaas Emergency Cash will be among the leading redesigns of social protection, WB notes, and will help in the great global reimagination of social welfare. The approach can also address rising inequality and advance attainment of SDGs in a post Covid-19 world.

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Naya Daur