ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar on Wednesday underlined the need for investing more in technology and data in order to ensure full transparency in social welfare system and improve delivery of human capital services.

She highlighted the experience of Pakistan in scaling up the Ehsaas Emergency Cash (EEC) programme using data and digital technology during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Nishtar was speaking at the World Bank ministerial conclave: ‘Arresting Human Capital Losses due to Covid-19: Re-imagining Service Delivery in a Digital Age’.

The meeting focused on how countries can make the most of the digital age, making smart investment decisions around technology and innovations for services that better protect, build and utilise human capital.

Speaking about the Ehsaas programme, Dr Nishtar said: “Ehsaas Emergency Cash demonstrated how cash transfer programmes can be deployed to counter the socio-economic fallout such as the Covid-19.”

She said to deliver cash to 15 million families amid Covid-19, the digital capabilities established in year 2019 as part of Ehsaas, were adapted to deliver Ehsaas Emergency Cash particularly a new biometric payment system, a demand side SMS based request seeking platform and a new wealth profiling big data analytics mechanism.

According to the World Bank, Pakistan’s Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme was also ranked fourth globally in terms of the number of people covered and 3rd globally in terms of percentage of population covered amongst those that covered over 100 million people.

Representatives from countries like Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Senegal, Turkey, Uruguay, Bangladesh and others participated in video-linked meeting.

The conclave showcased ways in which countries can reimagine and refine service delivery to better serve their populations in the face of Covid-19, taking advantage of the digital age. Strategic investments in delivery systems, innovative solutions, personalisation of existing services, or actions to reach previously unreachable groups were featured.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2021

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