NSER National Socio-Economic Registry
For Social Safety Net Program (SSNP) like BISP, effective targeting is very crucial for ensuring objectivity in identification of beneficiaries and transparency of interventions. In the process of targeting beneficiaries, BISP with the support of World Bank conducted a national level Poverty Score Card (PSC) survey in 2010-11 through which complete information on the socioeconomic and welfare status of almost 27 million households was collected across the country.
The data was collected using Paper & Pen based Personal Interviewing (PAPI). As a result of this huge exercise, a National Socio-Economic Registry (NSER) was established containing basic information on household size, education, employment, disability, assets etc.
The database was used to decide eligibility of households and identification of ‘recipients’ for Conditional and Unconditional Cash Transfer Programs of BISP. Outside BISP, there have been more than 30 government/non-governmental institutions that are currently using BISP data for targeting of their programmes.
On one end, where these registries are useful to many development organisations to help incentivize and improve lives of the marginalized communities; on the other hand, these pose a great challenge as they change to a considerable degree overtime. The change in demographic profiles, economic registries, age, earning etc. necessitates recollection/update of the socioeconomic data to improve targeting performance. Globally such registries are updated after an interval of 4-5 years to determine whether or not support to the existing beneficiaries be continued or new families meeting the eligibility criteria be entered in the program.
Given the aforementioned factors and the mandate given to BISP as per BISP act 2010, BISP has decided to carry out national rollout of NSER Update using Android compatible Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI).
The use of CAPI has been envisaged to reduce hefty load of data processing time, errors and cost as well as increase efficiency and ensure availability of data for analysis soon after it is captured. In this regard, a pilot phase has already been implemented in 16 districts in order to improve overall design based on lessons learnt of the pilot phase.
A. Pilot Phase:
Through partner survey firms NSER has completed survey in 14 (fourteen) districts of Pakistan. Overall pilot phase districts were as under;
|2||Khyber Pakhtunkhwa||Lakki Marwat|
|Thatta (+ Sajjawal)|
B. National Rollout:
For ease of implementation, the entire country (140 districts excluding pilot districts) was divided in the following 08 (eight) geographical based clusters:
For targeting, the universal/door-to-door approach involving data collection through Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) was adopted with the approval of Board. Following this, hiring services of partner organizations through competitive bidding process was initiated, the progress of which is as under:
As per above, the early preparatory activities have been completed by Aurat Foundation (AF) for cluster 1 & 5; whereas, the other firm namely Rural Support Programme Network (RSPN) for clusters 6, 7 &8. NSER has also involved/hired Innovative Development Solutions (IDS) as third party monitoring firm for 8 clusters.
Cluster wise list of Division
|Cluster – 1||Cluster – 2||Cluster – 3||Cluster – 4||Cluster – 5||Cluster – 6||Cluster – 7||Cluster – 8|
2- D.G. Khan
10- D.I. Khan
3- Sh. Benazirabad
Cluster wise list of Districts
|Cluster – 1||Cluster – 2||Cluster – 3||Cluster – 4||Cluster – 5||Cluster – 6||Cluster – 7||Cluster – 8|
4. Nankana Sahib
|1. East Karachi
2. West Karachi
3. South Karachi
4. Central Karachi
21. Tando Mohammad Khan
3. Killa Abdullah
4. N. Waziristan
5. S. Waziristan
6. Bajaur Agency
NSER updation would be another milestone for BISP. BISP has geared up all its efforts for NSER update. Socio Economic Registries often have errors at three levels i.e. Design level, Implementation level and due to time factor. These errors directly affect the accuracy of database. Internationally, the social safety data repositories (socio economic registries) are updated periodically through various tools/procedures. It is also an internationally accepted phenomenon that household demographics change to a considerable degree in 5 years of time. Any error at design, implementation level or due to time, may lead to inclusion or exclusion errors causing wastage of public resources.
The recent changes in the country’s economic indicators of poverty and unemployment may have significantly altered the household composition and demographic information. Similarly, there is a possibility that a household having entered BISP programme at a certain level of welfare may no longer need assistance following a significant positive change in its welfare condition, or new families that meet the eligibility criteria now need to enter the programme.
Keeping in view the transient nature of population around the poverty line and the internationally accepted phenomenon of change in HHs demographic profile over time, it is important for this flagship social safety net to start working on update of its NSER. An update of NSER will help to overcome the above mentioned three levels of errors especially the one associated with the time factor. Since BISP has made progressive development over last few years, the lessons learned can also minimize the errors associated with design and implementation during update of the NSER.
Besides, current NSER is a static registry i.e. it is unable to cater to changing socio economic conditions of the population surveyed 5 years ago. It can neither address the issue of population missed out by the previous survey, nor can it exclude those who may no longer need assistance, since the information has not been updated after the survey. International best practices suggest updating information periodically, within a 3-5 years period to ensure the validity of data. It is therefore imperative that the data/NSER be updated.
Approval of Updating the NSER
Considering the above given rationale of: age of the data; three levels of errors; transient nature of poverty and international best practices, it was felt that the database should be updated to cater for the changes in socio-economic conditions of the country through a re-survey. In this regard a proposal was placed before BISP board in July 2015, which approved, in principle, the update of the NSER. The Board advised that the NSER may be updated in consultation with an Advisory committee comprising eminent researchers, policy analysts and development partners. The Board was informed that, in order to explore the possibility of having a dynamic database, BISP is planning to try two different targeting approaches i.e. universal targeting through door-to-door survey and self-targeting through pre-established registration desks. The Board directed that Value-for-Money (VfM) of each approach used to update the registry may be assessed in the first phase and the approach to be adopted for national roll-out (second phase) would be decided on the basis of the results of first phase.
Following the Board’s direction, an Advisory Committee and a Technical Committee, consisting of renowned national and international researchers, poverty experts, and provincial representatives were constituted and meetings were held to deliberate the methodology, approach and the PMT tool. In light of consultation with both the Advisory and Technical Committee, BISP Management has made following decisions:
It has been decided that NSER update will be carried out in two phases; Phase-I and Phase-II (national rollout). In Phase-I, survey in 15 districts throughout the country (including all the 4 provinces, AJK and GB) and one agency from FATA will be conducted. First Phase Districts have been selected considering regional heterogeneities; key parameters include population density, urbanization, level of development and accessibility. Phase-I will provide essential information for both the VFM and revision of operational strategies, if needed, for Phase-II.
To reduce data collection and data entry error, BISP will take the advantages of technology by collecting the data through Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI).
Data will be collected using the Poverty Score Card based on the Proxy Means Test. The PMT formula and the PSC have been revised and finalized in consultation with the technical teams of the World Bank and the Technical Committee established by BISP.
Testing Dynamic Registry
In line with global best practices, and the directions of Board and the Advisory & Technical Committees the NSER update will also test self-registration as a data collection methodology, which will be the first step towards making the registry dynamic. The design for self-registration is evolving; however, BISP has hired the services of NADRA to set up self-registration desks at the UC/Tehsil levels in 4 districts. As mentioned above, BISP is using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) in data collection. To identify the feasible methodology (self-registration through desk vs. door-to-door census) and to estimate the VFM associated, a door-to-door survey will be conducted in selected districts (where self-registration has already been implemented) to compare the efficiency of both the approaches including inclusion and exclusion errors and financial costs. The operational strategy, i.e. use of Desk vs. Universal Targeting, will be revisited after the results of the first phase are available. The capacity of partners, locations of desks, potential costs and logistics have been worked out for this approach. The data collection has already started in Haripur and Bahawalpur districts through Desk Approach.
Table: Districts Cover in Phase I
No. Region/Province District/Area No. Region/Province District/Area
1 AJK Mirpur
2 GilgitBaltistan Gilgit
3 KP Charsadda
4 KP LakkiMarwat
5 KP Haripur
6 Punjab Chakwal
7 Punjab Faisalabad
8 Punjab Layyah
9 Punjab Bahawalpur
10 Sindh Sukkur
11 Sindh Jacobabad
12 Sindh Thatta
13 Balochistan KillaSaifullah
14 Balochistan Nasirabad
15 Balochistan Kech
16 FATA Mohmand Agency
As discussed above, NSER Update is to be carried out in two phases, i.e. Pilot Phase and National Rollout. Pilot Phase in 16 districts, along with Value-for-Money paper, would be finalized by May 2017, after which BISP will initiate the preparations for National Rollout. Under the directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, it has been decided in principle that whole of the country will be covered equally in the upcoming survey and no area will be left out. The overall NSER Update will be completed by February 2018, before the next general elections.