World Bank approves $600m for expanding Pakistan’s Ehsaas programme
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved $600 million in financing from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Crisis-Resilient Social Protection Program (CRISP) that will support Pakistan to expand Ehsaas, the national poverty alleviation programme, to protect vulnerable households and increase resilience to economic shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Friday.
“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of families across Pakistan face economic hardship, particularly those working in the informal sector, who have no savings or are not covered by existing social safety net programs,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “This investment supports Ehsaas in developing an adaptive social protection system that is more efficient and offers a new model for crisis-response and increasing household resilience to future shocks.”
In a statement, the Bank said CRISP will facilitate the gradual expansion of Ehsaas social protection programs to better reach informal workers through an innovative, hybrid approach that blends social assistance with promotion of increased savings that informal workers, particularly women, can depend on in the event of economic shocks. It will provide a platform through which the government can rapidly respond to support the most affected households during an economic crisis.
“In the event of a crisis, a more flexible and dynamic social protection system can significantly reduce the time needed to respond to peoples’ needs as well as supporting a faster recovery,” said Amjad Zafar Khan, Task Team Leader for the Crisis-Resilient Social Protection program.
CRISP will also improve the capacity of the social registry to maintain up-to-date accurate household data and exchange data among social programs, while providing greater beneficiary choice in the biometric payment systems. It will also help Pakistan address longer-term impacts on human capital caused by the pandemic, resulting from foregone health and medical services and a substantial loss of education due to prolonged absence from schools.
To help prevent losses in human capital accumulation, which is critical to long-term resilience, CRISP leverages two existing Ehsaas programs that provide conditional cash transfers (CCT) to eligible households. These include Waseela-e-Taleem, a CCT program linked to primary school attendance and Nashonuma, a nutrition-focused CCT program aimed at improving child and maternal health, which will benefit more than three million families across the country.