Frameworks for a Developmental Welfare State: Lessons From Pakistan's Ehsaas Programme

Pakistan's Ehsaas Programme has set itself apart as a world-leading anti-poverty effort to uplift the country's most vulnerable. This paper is a review of the Ehsaas Programme, implemented by the Government of Pakistan from 2018 onwards. Ehsaas, in its goal of becoming a holistic and integrated response to poverty, provides a diverse set of services for vulnerable Pakistanis, including unconditional cash transfers, targeted subsidies, and increased health and nutritional coverage. We study the various policy, programmatic, and implementation reforms undertaken during this period and explore the lessons these reforms offer for global policymakers. In particular, we point to the importance of good leadership, building strong institutions, effectively using data and technology, and of using an integrated, inclusive approach to anti-poverty. Our findings indicate that these reforms have enabled Ehsaas to successfully scale impact, increase transparency, and improve the efficiency of its interventions, whilst building trust amongst beneficiaries and programme administrators.