Social Mobilization – National Cash Transfers Programme

Social Protection and its related services is one of the priority areas of Government of Pakistan (GoP) and it has already undertaken several steps in this direction, the most important of which is the setting up and institutionalization of a Federal Safety Net Authority – The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). World Bank and UKaid have been actively engaged with the GoP since 2009 by providing technical and financial assistance to BISP and the Planning Commission for establishing, strengthening and institutionalizing the Federal Safety Net Authority in Pakistan.

BISP’s statistics indicate that out of 6 million beneficiary households, 71 percent households have children who have never attended school. These stark figures persuaded GoP, WB and UKaid to extend support to BISP in designing a new programme component based on conditional cash transfers for primary education. The programme component targets children between the ages of 5 to 12 years, including newly and already admitted students.

Social Mobilisation is one of the key elements of Waseela-e-Taleem programme, envisaged to play a key role in inculcating co-responsibility of beneficiaries in the success and take-up of the programme. Through social mobilisation, the beneficiary mothers would be organized in groups/committees at the village, union council and tehsil level.

In this context, Aurat Foundation and ACT International tested “Social mobilisation Pilot” in five districts of Pakistan (with 100 percent coverage within selected tehsils) i.e. Malakand, Mirpur, Skardu, Nushki and Karachi South. The proposed project had three specific objectives:

i. Conduct scoping exercise of target districts to design a social mobilisation strategy for BISP in general and Waseela-e-Taleem Programme in particular.
ii. Pilot the social mobilisation strategy in selected districts.
iii. Suggest a comprehensive social mobilisation strategy on the basis of lessons learnt for roll-out of the BISP programmes, especially the Waseela-e-Taleem programme, in all districts of Pakistan keeping in view geographical/cultural differences. The process of establishing local community based forums intends to imbue the principle of collective ownership, transparency, participation and monitoring amongst beneficiaries to leverage the concept of co-responsibility.

The proposed social mobilisation structure under pilot test phase was put in place to serve all BISP programmes especially Waseela-e-Taleem and can be drawn upon for future BISP initiatives. The pilot phase has been testing the social mobilisation strategy around the graduated BISP programmes with primary focus on Waseela-e-Taleem. In addition to this, the social mobilisation strategy encompasses overall perspective of social protection services for BISP beneficiaries at large.

On the basis of above mentioned objectives and framework, the AF and ACT International started implementing the pilot phase in selected five districts. It has successfully mapped out  22,446 BISP beneficiaries leading to formation of five Tehsil Coordination Committees (TCC), 20 BISP Union Council Committees (BUCC) and 657 BISP Beneficiary Committees (BBC). A number of challenges and constraints were experienced during the implementation given below:

1.1       Constraints and Challenges

A number of challenges resulted in delaying the start of the mapping process, and subsequently affected the conduct of the mapping exercise itself. These included; issues related to accuracy of data provided by BISP, tough terrain, inaccessible weather conditions, scattered and remote location of BISP beneficiaries and worsening security situation particularly in Karachi and Naushki.

 1.2       Progress of Pilot Test- Phase 1

Despite the challenges mentioned above, AF and ACT International have aggressively pursued completion of project deliverables

The detailed summary of quantitative progress of Pilot activities is given in table – 1.

Table: 1         Summary of achievement as of January 24, 2013

Key Activities

Original Target

District Wise Achievement

Cumulative Achievement








Beneficiary Mapping









Conduct area Opening meetings









Formation of BBC’s Committees









Fortnightly meetings of BBCs conducted









Awareness sessions delivered









One day Orientation Training of WLs









Formation of UC Committees









Dissemination of IEC material (UCs)









Despite the challenges highlighted earlier, the project has been successful due to extensive responsiveness of beneficiaries, commitment of staff and continuous support and proactive involvement of the BISP.

Significant learning has emerged from the immediate results achieved during this period. These immediate results are based on the pre line assessment, process monitoring and extensive feedback from beneficiaries, field teams and stakeholders. The results provide a perspective on how to ensure meaningful utility of committees, minimize opportunity cost of implementation design, ensure relevant capacity building support and maturing institutional structures for sustained responsiveness of communities.

1.3      Immediate Results of Social Mobilisation

Significant learning has been drawn from feedback received during the implementation of project activities. These responses give us clear guideline as to how the social mobilisation initiative contributes in deepening the overall BISP interventions for all its programmes. It also informs on the future role of social mobilisation in BISP programming. It highlights perspectives of beneficiary involvement and participation, transparency and accountability, quality control and monitoring, ownership and utility of BISP committees, empowerment and mobility as well as effectiveness of case management and adherence of co-responsibility concept.  The salient preliminary results are:

1. The learning of Aurat Foundation and ACT International with perspective of mapping of beneficiaries is that mapping plays a pivotal role in clustering the beneficiary groups for their engagement through formation of BISP beneficiary committees. In addition, the required duration for the process needs to be comparatively more than the tested time and involvement of local influential persons, prayer leader, LHW and use of loudspeaker and FM radio are essential for effective mapping.
2 . Results from pre-line survey validate that before the inception of the social mobilisation pilot test in the selected districts, overall awareness and understanding of the BISP programme and its packages was very low. At large, the beneficiaries considered social protection mechanism as aid and not a right. A very few number of families knew the process of poverty score card and the criteria for unconditional cash transfer. As a result of the formation of BBCs, the women leaders and beneficiary members are persistently following up on their claims and submitting complaints. However, qualitatively documentation of case studies reflects a significant increase in awareness of knowledge and understanding about BISP programme amongst beneficiaries. This increase in awareness and knowledge about the BISP programme comparatively improves the response of beneficiaries (demand side of the process). However it is observed that the supply side requires capacity building support to manage the response efficiently and effectively. It was also found that the committee leaders and members of BBCs require consistent support for the next six to eight months with extensive capacity building support to attain organizational maturity and enhanced understanding /skills related to leadership, basic life skills and civic registration. Zainab Bibi’s enhanced ability to deal with obstacles as part of her learning out of BBC formation can be observed with the following case study:

Case Study -1. Learning to sort out ways to manage obstacles; Zainab plays her leadership Role

Can we expect from a woman who has never received any formal or informal education to lead a group of women, sort out ways to manage obstacles and aid a national organization to test a social mobilisation strategy in a relatively under-privileged tribe of a rural city in Pakistan. We have seen one. Zainab bibi is an old lady living in the suburbs of Tehsil Dadyal, Mirpur. She is a BISP beneficiary, has never attended any educational set up and lives in poverty.

The moment SM-NCTP social organizers approached the village of Zainab bibi to form BISP Beneficiary Committee there; panic seemed taken over the faces of the members of the BBC members. The question haunting them was: who would be the record-keeper who would manage the fortnightly meetings and maintain its record? A discussion followed, and Zainab Bibi proposed the name of Shazia, a 17 year old literate girl in the surroundings. She was convinced by Zainab Bibi to become the record-keeper of their BBC. While leading the process, she resolved one of the major obstacles in her BBC in the very beginning of the BBC formation process.

SM-NCTP’s core objective is to bridge the gap between all stakeholders of Benazir Income Support Program. One of the specific components of the program is to mobilize women beneficiaries for Waseela-e-Taleem program. Shazia helps Zainab’s BBC in maintaining record appropriately and in the liaison with SM district office and BISP Tehsil office.

Shazia is quiet happy to assist the members of BBC and says, “It’s really a matter of delight for me that I am helping elder ladies of my tribe. It provides me great relief to help out these women of my tribe”. Shazia addressed 5 identity card cases and helped the BBC members to make their computerized identification cards. She assists all beneficiaries in matters related to BISP tehsil office and District Social Mobilisation office.

On the other hand, Zainab bibi continuously runs the affairs of her BBC along with other members. “We were deprived and ignored people of society no one was paying attention even after formation of committee. We are feeling strengthened and our agonies are being addressed now”, said one of the members of the BBC while commenting on the role of Zainab Bibi.

“I had no idea what role we could play to change our lives by joining hands together and struggling together. I must say thanks to SM-NCTP for allowing us this opportunity to form women bodies and learn to work together for our common good”, Zainab Bibi had learnt and shared with SM-NCTP team.

3. The utility of a committee is evident in improved beneficiary ownership of the programme, involvement in monitoring the process of BISP programmes, facilitating case management of beneficiaries and generating demand related to civil registration. Women leaders proactively identified number of cases of BISP beneficiaries related to stoppage of payment, delay in payment and commissions extended to various service providers, i.e. postal office staff, telenor easy paisa and local village facilitators etc. One of the beneficiaries, Zahra had a story to share on the utility of the BBC:

Case Study -2 Her vigor had no direction to turn up her dreams into realityZahra Ashraf is 30 years of age in Farmashut village of Skardu. She is the woman leader of BBC Farmashut and Councilor of the BUCC  Bhasho. Being young and energetic, she was always willing to come up with solutions, reach the officials to resolve the issues of local community and form a group to handle the issues faced by women. She had no idea what was coming in for her in the form of pilot testing of social mobilisation strategy through SM-NCTP programme of BISP.Living 70 kilometers away from Skardu where she would need at least 1000 rupees to travel each time, she was woeful and distressed. She wanted to speak up; but had no medium to raise the issue. The formation of BBC and BBUC subsequently allowed her a medium to raise her voice, come in front and work alongside other women of her group to take on the issues.Her BBUC discussed the issue of spending 1000 for each visit and travelling this far to receive their amount from BISP and thereby passed a resolution asking the BISP to either place an ATM machine in their locality ort find an alternate solution. Zahra went to the local BISP office to submit the resolution and had these words: “I could not imagine taking such bold actions. The formation of this committee has at least helped me to raise our small issues to the local authorities”.

Later, her BBC “Farmashut” requested Special Communications Organization to put a cellular tower in their area so they could enjoy continuous uninterrupted service on their wireless phones. At the occasion, Zahra could not hide her excitement and informed her social organizers that it was all her dream and she is overly delighted.

BISP’s statistics indicate that out of 6 million beneficiary households, 71 percent households have children who have never attended school. These stark figures persuaded GoP, WB and UKaid to extend support to BISP in designing a new programme component based on conditional cash transfers for primary education. The programme component targets children between the ages of 5 to 12 years, including newly and already admitted students.

4. It is pertinent that the response of BISP beneficiaries is encouraging and women leaders and beneficiary members of the BBC have started visiting the tehsil and district offices of BISP and NADRA. These visits are scheduled to address the collective issues of BISP beneficiaries in their respective committees. Some of the issues taken up during visits relate to clarifying the status of women who have received tokens but have not yet received disbursements, have not been issued CNIC, have not been able to enrol their children during camps, etc. However, the results for union council and tehsil demonstrate that a majority of women, approximately 50 percent for union council and 67 percent for tehsil, have difficulties travelling outside their respective union council or tehsil boundaries. The aspect of getting permission and moving along with family member or female members of the respective community can be improved by building trust and confidence amongst the BBC women leaders and community at large by vigorous engagement. This vigorous engagement for building trust and mutual confidence requires support and long-term engagement.
5. A significant achievement of the information provision under social mobilisation has been that the concept of right holder and duty bearer is being imbued in BISP beneficiaries. In tehsil Dadyal of district Mirpur, a number of BISP beneficiaries surrendered their support of unconditional cash transfer because they felt that they are not eligible for this support. They reported that other families residing in their village were more deserving. It can be observed in one of the case studies reported from the field:

Case Study -3. Sometimes awareness is the only remaining reason for changeKhatoon Bibi is around 48 years old and lives in Bathroi village of Dadyal’s Raipur union council. She has been a registered beneficiary of the Benazir Income Support Programme since 2010. She was identified by the social organizers and became a part of the Bathroi BBC.She was a participant in the awareness sessions, area opening meeting and the introductory session of the BBC’s. When she was apprised of the concepts of State vs. citizenship and rights and duties of the citizens and the State, she responded with an unforeseen step. She gauged out that there were more deserving people around her to become BISP beneficiaries. Moved in entirety, she voluntarily surrendered her beneficiary status, and opted not to receive cash support from the Benazir Income Support Programme. While moved, her words had stubbornness while stating: “I had no idea of the role of citizen or State, and I took it for granted. I am clear of my duties to the State and my community, and I am surrendering my beneficiary status. I must thank you all and I will ask you to hold such sessions everywhere so that our entire nation could get what are their duties to our motherland”.

Aurat Foundation and ACT International were extensively engaged with BISP management during the implementation of the social mobilisation initiative. On the basis of results of the Social Mobilisation Project and the challenges in the field, it is revealed that the social mobilisation strategy needs to be further tested given the field experience and lessons learnt before rolling out at national level

+92(0)51 5170866, +92(0)51 5170686

Who we are


How we do

Be a part