Evaluating Pakistan’s flagship social protection programme (the Benazir Income Support Programme)
The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is Pakistan’s flagship social protection programme, targeted at the poorest households across 149 districts in Pakistan. A poverty-targeted cash transfer, the BISP provides a regular stipend to over 5 million families. In line with the BISP’s goal of promoting women’s empowerment, the quarterly transfer is paid directly to the female head of the family, aiming to alleviate the effects of food price inflation and other unexpected cost increases on the poorest and most vulnerable households.
In addition to the main unconditional cash transfer component, the BISP implements a range of complementary programmes. The largest of these is a conditional cash transfer for education, known as the Waseela-e-Taleem (WET) programme. The WET programme provides an additional quarterly transfer to support access to primary education.
Our evaluation of the BISP provides a comprehensive assessment of the programme, in order to demonstrate its performance and impact. The evaluation findings feed into ongoing programme operations and future programmatic and funding decisions.
We are conducting a comprehensive mixed-methods evaluation of the BISP on the basis of a clearly defined theory of change. The evaluation investigates the impact of the programme on a range of human and development indicators, including poverty, education, livelihoods, women’s empowerment, health, and child nutrition. In addition, the evaluation also investigates the impact of the complementary WET programme, a conditional cash transfer for education.
The core of the evaluation is based on a nationally representative household survey of more than nine thousand households across Pakistan, used for both quantitative evaluation and extensive qualitative research.
The evaluation provides crucial information about the impact and the performance of the BISP over the course of five years of implementation - from its inception to its current status. The evaluation supports the programme’s accountability to its funders, as well as informing the design of future phases of the programme and complementary programming.
Through our detailed analysis of the programme, we have been able to show consistent achievements against poverty reduction target, with poverty falling by seven percentage points. In addition, we can see that the programme is making impressive strides in empowering women and supporting universal primary education in Pakistan.
The findings are expected to feed directly into ongoing national policy debates around social protection, and to support the evidence base around social protection both nationally and internationally.