“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 in a statement. “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.”
The Ehsaas program, launched on April 1st, 2020, offers financial support to millions of families hit by the pandemic. The Ehsaas Amdan (Income) program involves giving away small “assets” to those who live below the poverty line so that they can earn a living and escape from the shackles of poverty. Local media reports that this is the “biggest and boldest program” ever launched in Pakistan to uplift marginalized people.
Some of the Ehsaas’ active initiatives that are helping improve the lives of millions include Ehsaas Kafaalat, Ehsaas Emergency Cash, Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship, Ehsaas Nashonuma, Ehsaas Langars, Ehsaas Interest Free Loans, Ehsaas Amdan, and several others connected to the Ehsaas poverty survey.
According to the details, 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 the 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.
Amjad Zafar Khan, Task Team Leader for the Crisis-Resilient Social Protection program said, “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,”.
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 Pakistan
The World Bank had earlier lauded Pakistan for launching Ehsaas cash transfer emergency programme, saying that would be instrumental in mitigating the impact on the economy due to novel coronavirus.