KP social protection strategy on the anvil
PESHAWAR, Aug 11: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has undertaken a task to evolve a social protection strategy and guide its public policy formulation process to achieve poverty alleviation through cohesive social protection measures, according to officials.
Apart from introducing reforms in the public policy preparation process, the new initiative will also monitor the effectiveness of the provincial government’s existing poverty alleviation initiatives and social protection programmes and harmonise them with the provincial Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS) 2010-17, working to achieve its goals by stimulating economic growth through poverty alleviation.
“Though the provincial government has undertaken several initiatives to protect the poor and reduce their vulnerabilities, it is difficult to gauge their effectiveness as the government’s effort has been compromised due to fragmentation of such programmes and adequacies resulted by their overlapping impact,” said an official.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has seen a variety of small grants programmes that the sitting provincial government launched to create self employment opportunities at the grassroots, countering joblessness and the negative effects of militancy.
Some of these initiatives are Bacha Khan Khapal Rozgar Scheme, Stoori da Pakhtunkhwa Programme, and Hunarmand Rozgar Programme. The provincial government distributed billions of rupees among the deserving youth, jobless skilled workers, and artisans to make them economically productive, encountering poverty in the province.
Some question the efficacy of these programmes because the provincial government launched these small grants programmes
at a time when the federal government is running identical schemes, including its multi-billion rupees Benazir income support programme and Zakat fund.
An official said these programmes lacked strategic harmony and were not governed by a holistic policy framework or a strategy, undermining their effectiveness.
The significance of such programmes, said another development planner, could not be denied when economic stagnancy and an unfavorable law and order situation in the province had severely impacted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, triggering unemployment.
“There is a growing need that the public policy should put more emphasis on social protection to answer some of the more depressing economic problems faced by people,” said the official, adding that was what several countries had done by achieving a cohesion in their public policy and social protection requirements of the lower segments of the society.
In a move to remove the existing systemic flaws by introducing reforms and achieve desired results of its existing and future social protection initiatives, the provincial government has decided to assemble experts from public and private sectors to prepare policy frameworks for its development departments, effecting cohesion in their effort to achieve CDS goals.
In this respect, a ‘public policy and social protection reforms unit’ is being established in the provincial planning and development department that would work to achieve the desired results through a variety of targeted activities, guiding the development departments’ policy framing process to achieve cohesion in social protection policies.
The initiative has specifically been designed to address the governance issues in development sector, achieving the improvement of service delivery system.
The cell’s job would set up expert groups and think tanks, involving professionals and experts from the government sector, academia, industrial sector, education institutions, legislature, financial institutions, environmental organisations, media, and lawyers.
Small working groups to be established by the cell would assist in suggesting reforms, review and update the existing laws and
regulations in the post 18th Constitutional amendment scenario.
An official said the reform cell’s main job would be to formulate policies for all the development departments. Besides, it would work to allay cross sectoral concerns to ensure ‘rights based approaches,’ ‘gender equality,’ ‘protection of climate,’ ‘public sector development’ for the effective implementation of public policies.
Similarly, it will put in place a comprehensive social protection strategy and develop a management information system, evolve monitoring and evaluation mechanism, and would do mapping of the government’s social protection interventions.
A ‘knowledge management centre’ will also be established in the planning department to facilitate research-based planning practices in the development departments, according to an official document.
“The move is holistic and integrated in nature to respond to the growing needs of undertaking effective social protection measures, aiming to achieve social empowerment and work towards lowering poverty,” said the official.
The province needed to have policies that laid emphasis on social protection, said a planner, because its existing social protection programmes and small grant schemes could be effective to reduce poverty by promoting efficient labor markets,
diminishing people’s exposure to risks.
Besides, the existing initiatives, if run prudently, could also enhance the beneficiaries’ capacity to protect themselves against hazards and loss of income.