CREATING SYNERGIES, INTEGRATING EVIDENCE CAN ENHANCE SOCIAL PROTECTION IMPACT: SPEAKERS

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ISLAMABAD, OCT 12 /DNA/ – For optimal shock-responsive Social Protection, innovation in delivery; paying attention to evidence gaps; transition to strategy and alignment of Federal and Provincial Social Protection programs can play a vital role in enhancing the overall impact. 

This was the crux of the online-Consultative Session titled: ‘Aggregating the Evidence: Shock-responsive Social Protection Delivery Mechanism in Pakistan’ organized by Sub-National Governance Programme (SNG), Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office-UK (FCDO) and Sustainable Development Policy Institute, SDPI-Center of Evidence Action Research. This exploratory session was the first one in the upcoming series of Evidence Based-Consultative Sessions on Social Protection by SNG-FCDO and an effort towards creating synergies for effective social protection delivery mechanisms in Pakistan. The session was moderated by Dr. Fareeha Armughan, Research Fellow, SDPI. 

Dr. Amjad Saqib (Founder, Akhuwat) chaired the session and highlighted the need to view poverty through a multidimensional lens, especially in the context of shocks such as Covid. He emphasized the need for synergies among the public, voluntary and private sectors to address poverty in its entirety through reliable and innovative solutions. 

SDPI Executive Director, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said the consolidation of social safety nets was a step in the right direction by the government, which helped in avoiding the overlapping and duplication of institutions, programmes and benefits.  

Dr. Aliya Hashmi Khan, Chair Ehsaas Labor Expert Group, discussed the horizontal linkages; the policy question of covering the informal workers and shared the vision of a ‘Live Registry’ of social protection. She advocated for collaboration between the federal and the provincial tiers for the registration of informal workers and linking them up with contributory social insurance. 

Ms. Samia Liaquat Ali, Group Head, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), discussed the critical ‘Evidence’ concerning huge differential that exists between ‘the current poor and ‘the identified poor’ by NSER database in 2010. She highlighted the need of digital literacy and gender-sensitive approach for the roll out of new social protection programmes.  

Ms. Beenish Fatimah Sahi, Chief Executive Officer, Punjab Social Protection Authority (PSPA), was of the view that COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses of our social protection system, a gap that the provincial government is addressing with the assistance of Sub-National Governance Programme. “We need to come up with cutting-edge shock responsive strategies to help the vulnerable population” she added. 

Highlighting the importance of strategic direction at the time of crises, Mr. Musharaf Khan, PD, Social Protection Reforms Unit-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that well-articulated provincial policies and strategies can play an important role in addressing crises like COVID-19 by devising inclusive interventions for all vulnerable segments of the population. 

Mr. Mazhar Siraj, Senior Social Development Adviser, FCDO emphasized the need for synergistic efforts to strengthen the regular Social Protection programmes that can be adjusted and flexed during the shock. “If we really want to enhance federal-provincial cooperation in shock responsive social protection, our starting point has to be organising the existing programmes better between the federal and the sub-national tier’, he argued. 

Concluding the webinar, Dr. Sohail Anwar, Advisor Governance and Social Protection, SNG, Punjab argued for a multi-tiered approach towards the dispensation of social protection in Pakistan. He proposed to have a policy platform where the federal and provincial social protection agencies can identify common space for synergies and complementarities, clearly delineating the roles and functions that each tier of the government has to perform.