Options for making Pakistan’s flagship national cash transfer programme shock-responsive

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Karin Seyfert and Mukhtar Ahmad

1 Study objectives and programme background

The objective of this study is to explore the viability and potential mechanisms for making BISP, Pakistan’s flagship national social protection programme, shock-responsive. Our study focuses on the BISP Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) only. We do not examine other programmes run under BISP such as the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education Waseela-e-Taleem, nor do we look at other Ehsaas programmes.

In using the term ‘shock’, we refer to covariate shocks such as natural disasters that affect entire communities (see Box 1). Routine social protection schemes support households during idiosyncratic shocks, such as loss of income, but they can also be mobilised to support entire communities during covariate shocks that affect several households at the same time, such as drought and floods. We distinguish between rapid-onset shocks and slow-onset shocks. Our study has been slightly modified from its inception to also include a discussion of the ongoing response to COVID-19.