Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar on Wednesday highlighted the experience of Pakistan in scaling up the Ehsaas Emergency Cash (EEC) programme using data and digital technology during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was speaking at the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Ministerial Conclave during the 2021 IMF-World Bank Group Annual Meetings. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sania motivated other countries to invest more in technology and data to improve delivery of human capital services. “EEC demonstrated how cash transfer programmes can be deployed to counter the socio-economic fallout such as the COVID-19. To deliver cash to 15 million families amid COVID-19, the digital capabilities established in year 2019 as part of Ehsaas, were adapted to deliver Ehsaas Emergency Cash particularly a new biometric payment system, a demand side SMS based request seeking platform and a new wealth profiling big data analytics mechanism”, Dr Sania said. Further, drawing on lessons learnt from the programme implementation during COVID-19, Dr Sania added, “Using the same system, we have upscaled our education conditional as well as the health and nutrition conditional cash transfer programmes nationwide despite the financial constraints imposed by COVID. Also, stipends are skewed to favor girls’ education. Even when COVID-19 was raging, we completed the work on Ehsaas survey, based on which are expanding our social protection operations.” The key lesson, she emphasised, was that to execute well at scale, data and technology are only part of the solution, it is how you plug them in a context of systems, policy and partnership innovations and the execution diligence that matters for delivery. The Conclave was opened by the World Bank Group President, David Malpass. Ministers of Finance and Planning from over 80 Human Capital project countries, key development partners, other high-level officials, and the World Bank’s senior leadership attended the event. The 2021 Conclave on “Arresting Human Capital Losses due to COVID-19: Reimagining Service Delivery in a Digital Age”, focused on how countries can make the most of the Digital age, making smart investment decisions around technology and innovations for services that better protect, build and utilize human capital. According to the World Bank, Pakistan’s Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme was also ranked fourth globally in terms of the number of people covered and 3rd globally in terms of percentage of population covered amongst those that covered over 100 million people. Alongside Dr Sania, Dr Olavo Avelino Garcia Correia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Business Development, and Digital Economy, Cabo Verde; Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Indonesia; Nasser Shraideh, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Jordan; Amb. Ukur Yatani, Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury, Kenya; Prof. Ju-Ho LEE, Commissioner, Global Education Commission and Former Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Korea; Javier Lozano, Co-founder and CEO, Clinicas del Azucar, Mexico; Timur Maksimov, Deputy Minister of Finance, Russian Federation; Amadou Hott, Minister of Economy, Planning and Cooperation, Senegal; Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation, Togo; Lutfi Elvan, Minister of Treasury, Turkey; Azucena Arbeleche, Minister of Economy and Finance, Uruguay; Asif Saleh, Executive Director, BRAC Bangladesh; and others also delivered statements at the event. The Conclave showcased ways in which countries have and can reimagine and refine service delivery to better serve their populations in the face of COVID-19, taking advantage of the digital age. Strategic investments in delivery systems, innovative solutions, personalisation of existing services, or actions to reach previously unreachable groups were featured.