A. Introduction

BISP has established National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) in 2011. NSER is a data repository containing information on the socio-economic status of all the households (HHs) participated in the data collection exercise. Data of 27 million HHs was collected in 2010 for the first time by visiting the doorstep of each and every household in the country. NSER served as a platform for all social protection programmes in the public and private sectors to improve the overall targeting efficiency during the implementation. BISP and other social protection programmes have used this data set for the last ten years.

In 2016, BISP decided to update the NSER 2011 survey design and questionnaire, eventually leading to an updated registry database to improve the targeting efficiency of the BISP and other programmes using the registry. The objective of the NSER update was to recertify the existing beneficiaries, include new beneficiaries in the programme, and serve as a platform for other social protection programmes. Significant data collection in the field was carried out during the time between 2019-2021. BISP has now completed the update of NSER through which a data of 35 million HHs has been collected. All deserving HHs falling under the determined eligibility threshold are now participating in the programme to receive the benefits.


Today, BISP has the largest socio-economic database of all the HHS in Pakistan, which is the output of the scientifically designed Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) based NSER survey. Besides BISP's own targeted unconditional and conditional cash transfer programme components, which make use of the registry data, it is also being used for planning various poverty alleviation and social protection policies and programmes. The updated data is being shared under data sharing protocols with various international and national organisations for research and programme design and implementation purposes.

After static registry update, NSER is now transitioning to a dynamic registry platform that allows relatively frequent updates in the existing data and on-demand open and continuous access for a new registration to the masses. NSER, through a Multi-Entry Localized-Access (MELA) framework, implements the dynamic registry through the nationwide presence of registration centres at Tehsil levels, having secured verification and validation access of the national citizen registry maintained by NADRA. The registry has mechanisms to work as a shock-responsive registry which allows capturing changes in the socio-economic conditions of the calamity-affected areas.


1. Objectives and Functions as a Social Registry

To ensure objectivity in identifying beneficiaries and for transparency in implementing interventions, effective targeting of BISP beneficiaries

Ensuring objectivity and transparency in effective beneficiary targeting is pivotal to any Social Safety Program. Socio Economic Registries often have errors at two levels, i.e., design level and implementation level. Another important factor that needs to be considered is the frequency (duration or time) at which a registry is updated. Conventionally social registries are updated at an interval of 3 to 5 years to capture a country's changing socio-economic and demographic trends.


A key feature of Social Registries is whether or not they allow for dynamic inclusion, such that anyone can register into a Social Registry at any time. In other words, dynamic inclusion means that access to registration is open and continuous – usually with an on-demand application window for citizen interface – so that people can register for consideration of potential eligibility for social programs when in need or update their information if their situations change.


This principle also becomes important when shock-responsive or adaptive social protection systems are put into practice with the capabilities of responding to emergencies/shocks.

Many countries operate registries with fixed lists of registrants and beneficiaries. These systems are most common in countries where social assistance programs are relatively new, coverage is small, fiscal space is constrained, and administrative capacity is limited. A typical approach is to conduct registration every four to five years.

The challenge with this approach is that registration is closed to new registrants or to people whose needs and conditions have changed in the interim years between infrequent en-masse data collection waves. As such, although these en-masse registration waves can work well as a means to "get started" and to fill initial data gaps, the risk of errors of exclusion and inclusion increases over time, as the information becomes out-of-date and excludes HHs whose situations have changed or worsened and are unable to access the registry.

Moreover, the risk of exclusion is multiplied when these "fixed list" static systems serve multiple programs, as they could deny numerous benefits and services to potentially eligible individuals or HHs. Finally, without a system for continuous registration of new registrants (or updating of information for existing registrants), these static "fixed-list" systems are also less agile to respond in times of crises (low "adaptability" or no "shock-responsiveness").

B. NSER Evolution

1. NSER Survey 2010-11

A database of 27 million HHs was developed during the 'Nationwide Survey' in 2010-11. To gauge the socio-economic and asset information of the respondents, World Bank's Poverty Score Card (PSC) was used in this survey. This survey was conducted using Pen and Paper-based Personal Interviewing (PAPI) approach.

There was a need to converge this database of 27 million HHs into an active socio-economic registry which is updated regularly for better targeting. 

2. NSER Survey Update

In July 2015, the BISP board approved an update of BISP's 2010-11 national rollout database and initial discussions and planning meetings were held afterwards. It was decided that the NSER update will be carried out in two phases; Phase-I and Phase-II (national rollout) through the CAPI technique. In addition to a shift from paper-based interviewing to CAPI, NSER enhanced its assessment indicators included in PMT.


The use of CAPI has been envisaged to reduce data processing time to increase efficiency and ensure the timely availably of data from the field for analysis. It is expected to also reduce errors and costs. In 2017, a pilot phase in 15 districts was launched for NSER update through self-registration desks and door-to-door surveys. For optimal results, the districts were well stratified, keeping in view the heterogeneities of the country, i.e., remote areas, poverty, population, etc. The majority of data collection under the update was carried out from 2019 to 2021.

With respect to implementation, the country was divided into multiple clusters. Various Partner Organisations and Operations Review (OR) firms were contracted through a competitive bidding process and assigned various clusters for door-to-door data collection.

However, implementation of the door-to-door survey through the PO firms has faced many operational challenges, and as a result, BISP had to adopt two additional strategies; namely, Desk Based Registration and Teachers Based Census Model, to complete the registry data collection work.

2.1. BISP Registration Centers (BRCs)

Based on lessons learned from National Roll-out 2010-11 and to deal with the implementation challenges faced by some of the partner organisations in the national rollout, a parallel desk-based data collection approach was launched in association with NADRA in order to address grievances from missed-out HHs. These centres cater for:

  • Missed-out HHs during national rollout 2018-19,
  • HHs / roster information update and
  • HHs marked with discrepant information, such as missing CNIC.

These centres, with an average of 2-5 counters per centre, operated for a period of five months (120 working days) in phase 1. In the second phase, one or two counters remained functional per tehsil for one year and were termed permanent centres. BISP NSER plans to keep these centres as a permanent feature of the Tehsil level presence under the Dynamic Registry.


2.2. Teacher-Based Model

During National Roll-out 2018-19, No-Objection-Certification (NOC) for the CAPI-based survey could not be obtained for clusters 4 and 8 and some districts of the Punjab province (Sialkot, Narowal, etc.).  An alternative strategy to collect household data was proposed and approved in this regard. Under this strategy, the data was collected through teachers who acted as enumerators in designated enumeration areas, supervised by senior teachers and supported by designated trained IT teachers.


Provincial Education Departments and Local Administration looked after the door-to-door survey's administrative and logistical processes involved. BISP NSER wing, supported by the Technology wing and other BISP Headquarter and Field teams, implemented this model entirely through its technical team members who have planned, trained, monitored, and supervised field activities of the teacher-based data collection model.


3. Stakeholders and partners

Main stakeholders involved in the execution of the National Roll-out 2018-19

  • BISP Headquarters and Tehsil Offices
  • Implementing Partner Data Collection Firms
  • Operations Review Firm
  • Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social-Safety
  • Provincial Education Departments
  • World Bank
  • Asian Development Bank
  • Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), United Kingdom
  • German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
  • UN Organizations


4. Monitoring, Quality Assurance & Reporting

Several monitoring mechanisms were put in place to ensure the quality of the collected data, ensuring both system-level data quality assessment and physical shadowing and backchecking. An independent third party also validated the registry data through spot-checking. In the last phase, the registry's roster data (Name, CNIC, Marital Status, Gender, and Status of Differently-abled Persons) are cross-validated with NADRA's records, and any issues observed in transcription or data collection have been rectified. BISP also uses carefully designed exclusion filters (such as vehicle ownership, frequent air travel, etc.) to profile potential program beneficiaries.


5. Launching of New NSER data

After completing the NSER survey with continuous efforts for around three years, the new NSER data was formally launched in January 2022. The launch was attended by many dignitaries from federal ministries, provincial departments and international organisations, including World Bank and United Nations.


C. Transition from Static to Dynamic Registry 2021

1. Challenges

The main concerns raised on static data collection such as NSER 2011 registry were that:

  • The registry is of static nature and does not cater to the inclusion and exclusion errors nor the change in the socio-economic status of the HHs reported in 2011.
  • Carrying out door-to-door activity for data collection has required a lot of effort and resources. It took two years to complete for the first time in 2011 and almost three years in NSER update 2021.
  • The static registry does not take in changes in the socio-economic status of the HHs until the registry is updated through door-to-door activity.
  • The door-to-door activity is also costly exercise.
  • The same applies to NSER updates, which will become redundant in a few years if the data is not kept updated through dynamic updates


2. Objectives


To address all these issues, BISP is going to introduce the concept of a dynamic registry in a phased manner. The main objectives of a dynamic registry are as under:-

  • To update the database on regular basis and to avoid inclusion and exclusion errors
  • To record the change, on a regular basis, in the socio-economic status of the HHs already participated in the exercise
  • To save the operational cost being incurred for collection of data through door-to-door survey approach


3. Dynamic Registry Design & Implementation

BISP has already taken several steps in moving towards a dynamic registry. As a first step, Benazir Registration Desks have been established at the tehsil level to cater to missed-out HHs as well as to update missing information of surveyed HHs. In future, once all types as per the following process cycle of the MELA dynamic registry are implemented, there will be multiple platforms through which masses will be able to report and update their information. These platforms include BISP's registration desks established in all tehsils of the country, self-service household information updates through a secured mobile application, and inclusion of missed out/active outreach to hard-to-reach areas through mobile NSER registration vans.


3.1 Process Cycle of Dynamic Registry

BISP is currently covering approximately 24% (8 million families) of the total population under its Benazir Kifalat Programme, and more than 40% (15 million) are considering themselves eligible for all the benefits and are expected to visit the desks again and again to update their information of assets. Allowing these families immediately after the completion of the door-to-door activity for information updates is not operationally possible. Therefore, the dynamic registry process will allow updates supported by validation from NADRA.


Resurvey of reported HHs will only be allowed periodically except in the special circumstance, i.e. disasters/shocks etc. Recertification of existing beneficiaries will also be carried out periodically to update their socio-economic status.


Following is the complete process cycle of different types of making the registry dynamic:

Types of Updates



Condition of trigger

Type (1)

Update of Missed Information

  • Missed HH Coverage/CNIC
  • Discrepancy Resolution
  • Update of CNICs
  • Operational measures to ensure B-Form prior to adding children

Immediate-on going

Type (2)

Implementation of Appeal Cut Off

Appeal Cut Off:  Vulnerability inclusion filters are:

  • Presence of one or more widow member(s)
  • Presence of one or more members 65 years of age
  • Size of household three or less

Subject to an increase in the number of Benazir Kifalat beneficiaries

Type (3)

Roster Update

  • Birth Registration
  • Death Registration
  • Marital Status Update
  • Gender/ Differently abled Persons Status Update
  • Linked with NADRA database


Both through Desks and Android App

Type (4)

Shock Responsive Update

For all kinds of disasters

  • NDMA/PDMAs to notify the areas
  • NSER to perform resurvey of the notified areas

Immediate in response to Shock

Type (5)

Cyclic Socio-Economic Update

  • Non-Beneficiaries to be called for resurvey after Two years to update socio-economic status in different PMT brackets (e.g.)
  • Once initiated, all HHs under these categories will be processed in phases

Resurvey will initiate after every 2 Years

Type (6)

Recertification of Existing Beneficiaries

  • After three years of the survey, beneficiaries undergo the mandatory recertification/reassessment.
  • Beneficiaries will be given six months for the resurvey.

Resurvey will initiate after every 3 Years

Type (7)

Update the Registry

  • After collecting updated data from both types 5 & 6 in 3 and a half years, a new PMT calculation is to be executed within the next six months, and all the existing NSER data will be updated every four years.

Completed Every 4th Year



D. Data Sharing

NSER data is being used for targeting beneficiaries for various conditional and unconditional programmes, which includes BISP's various unconditional and conditional cash transfer programmes. The data is also used by various social-safety programmes launched under the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation & Social Safety.

Besides this, as per approved requests, the anonymised data is also acquired by various public and private sector organisations and research institutes for impact evaluations, research purposes, planning, designing and implementation of their various programs.

Since the launch of new NSER data in Jan 2022, 29 public and private sector organisations requested over 50 datasets ranging from demographics, differently abled person status, occupation and education. The NSER data has also helped in dealing with national-level emergencies such as Covid-19, the Harnai Earthquake, Internally Displaced Persons in the selected area(s) of NMDs, and affected families of Line of Control, and Floods 2022.


1. Sectoral /Indicator-Based Analysis and Profiling

In addition to establishing mechanisms of secured two-way data sharing with Federal and Provincial government ministries and departments, BISP has also deployed a Business Intelligence (BI) tool, which is being made accessible to researchers to analyse the NSER data depending on their thematic needs.


2. NSER Indicators

The data collection in NSER is based on a comprehensive questionnaire. Due to the rich nature of the collected data, various government and private entities are also utilising NSER's data to design targeted subsidy programs and social protection plans accordingly. At the moment, NSER has data on the following socio-economic indicators:


Socio Economic Status

Utilization of Fuel Wood/ Deforestation Rate

Unconditional & Conditional Support Status

Metered Connection (Electricity & Gas)

School Dropout (Primary, Middle and Secondary)

Child Labour & Workforce Profiling

Out of School Children (5 -17) Years

Livestock Keeping Practice – Big Animals

Level of Education

Livestock Keeping Practice – Small Animals

Adult Literacy Level

Household Using Covered Drinking Water - (Pump, Piped, Filtration Plant, Covered Well)

Employment profiling

Household Using Uncovered Drinking Water - (Pump, Piped, Filtration Plant, Covered Well)

Disability profiling

Agriculture land Ownership

Diseases profiling

Average Agriculture Land Household Owned by Socio Economic Statuses

Still Birth or Infant Mortality

Households Owned Internet Connection

Housing Structure Types

Households Owned UPS/Generator/Solar Panel

Availability of Latrines / Open Defecation Rate

Satisfaction with various state institutions (Police, Local Administration, Courts and Prosecution)