Social Protection in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab: Knowledge, Attitude and Practice

Background

Pakistan has numerous social protection programmes which aim to assist poor and vulnerable segments of society with cash transfers or in-kind support. However, not enough is known about citizens’ experience with these programmes and perception of their effectiveness. In October 2017, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), commissioned a study in four districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa  provinces on local populations’ Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) concerning the main 27 social protection programmes existing in these two provinces.

Method

In the districts of Lower Dir, Nowshera, Rahim Yar Khan and Sargodha, a quantitative survey of 1200 households, equally divided between the 4 districts, urban and rural settings, and gender of the respondents, was completed along with qualitative data collected from 16 focus group discussions. Of the 27 programmes, 12 concern ‘social assistance’ (non-contributory), 4 ‘social security’ (contributory, essentially for formal sector workers), 6 labour market interventions (e.g. training, supplies), and 5 educational transfers. A detailed questionnaire focused on respondents’ overall awareness of social programmes as well as their personal experience with such programmes and their opinions on how they function was administered.

Findings and recommendations

In both provinces overall awareness of programmes was limited, and just two were widely known: the Benazir Income Support Programme and the health card of, respectively, the Prime Minister’s National Health Program in Punjab, and the Sehat Sahulat Programme in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Of the 1200 respondents, 67% had applied for support from a social protection programme, while 58% had been accepted as beneficiaries. The study identifies a ‘significant knowledge gap’ concerning programmes’ existence, eligibility criteria and registration procedures, which also gives rise to misconceptions of lack of transparency. Illiteracy is a frequent barrier to understanding written information on the programmes, and suspicion of unfair distribution of benefits, aggravated by an inadequate complaint system, is widespread. To dispel these concerns, the study recommends independent monitoring of beneficiary selection procedures, introducing effective complaint and grievance redressal systems and involvement of local leaders in disseminating information on programmes. The authors also recommend introduction of a Single-Window Service to facilitate the public’s access to knowledge on and benefits of all the different schemes.