World Bank Supports Expansion of Ehsaas Social Protection Program in Pakistan to Increase Household Resilience to Economic Shocks

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2021 – The World Bank Board today approved $600 million in funding from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Crisis-Resilient Social Protection Program (CRISP) that will help Pakistan expand Ehsaas, the national anti-poverty program, to protect vulnerable households and increase resilience to economic shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of families across Pakistan are facing economic hardship, especially those who work in the informal sector, have no savings or are not covered by existing social safety net programs”, noted Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “This investment helps Ehsaas develop a more effective adaptive social protection system and offers a new model for responding to crises and increasing household resilience to future shocks.”

CRISP will facilitate the gradual expansion of Ehsaas social protection programs to better reach informal workers through an innovative and hybrid approach that combines social assistance with the promotion of increased savings on which informal workers, especially women , can count in the event of economic shocks. It will provide a platform through which the government can respond quickly 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 it takes to meet people’s needs and support a faster recovery”, noted Amjad Zafar Khan, Crisis Resilient Social Protection Program Team Leader.

CRISP will also improve the social registry’s ability to maintain accurate household data and exchange data between social programs, while providing greater choice for beneficiaries in biometric payment systems. It will also help Pakistan cope with the longer-term impacts on human capital caused by the pandemic resulting from loss of medical and health services and substantial loss of education due to prolonged absence from schools.

To help prevent losses in human capital accumulation, which are essential for long-term resilience, CRISP builds on two existing Ehsaas programs that provide conditional cash transfers (CCTs) 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 maternal and child health, which will benefit more than three million families across the country.

The World Bank in Pakistan

Pakistan has been a member of the World Bank since 1950. Since then, the World Bank has provided $40 billion in aid. The World Bank’s program in Pakistan is guided by the Country Partnership Strategy 2015-2020 with four priority areas of engagement: energy, private sector development, inclusion and service delivery. The current portfolio has 57 projects and a total commitment of $13 billion.

Last update: March 25, 2021

Joel C. Hicks