WASHINGTON: Pakistan showcased its data innovation and digital delivery system this week at a World Bank conference in Washington, where speakers highlighted the need to use technology to tackle crises like the Covid-19 pandemic.
Organizers pointed out that the pandemic had exacerbated South Asia’s vulnerabilities and reversed much of the recent gains in human development. It is estimated that 5.5 million children could drop out of school in South Asia due to lost income linked to Covid. That’s more than half of all dropouts worldwide.
Organizers noted, however, that such “profound disruptions” had shifted the focus to digitization and the use of converging technologies to deliver health, education, social protection services and to building future pandemics and resilience. climate.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Reduction and Social Protection, Dr Sania Nishtar, who represented Pakistan at the 7th One South Asia Conference, explained to participants how Pakistan has handled the pandemic.
Later, during a dinner at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, she recalled how the pandemic “ended life in March 2020”, forcing the government to choose between a lockdown or a widespread viral infection.
“A country with 15 million breadwinners could not afford a complete lockdown” because it would have caused famine for many, she said. The government, she added, has successfully applied a combination of precautionary measures and smart locks to overcome the pandemic.
“Using cell phone SMS messaging, internet connectivity, national ID cards and the capacity of commercial banks,” Pakistan has created a demand-based system, she said. “It allowed people in distress to seek social support during a crisis. “
Urging others to learn from the Pakistani experience, Dr Nishtar said the government has succeeded in creating “an adaptive system that contributes to resilience on a larger scale”.
But “data innovations and digital delivery systems can only be deployed if there is a commitment to integrity, transparency and accountability,” she added. Pakistan has also shown “how cash transfers can be used to counter the socio-economic fallout from a difficult long-term situation like Covid-19,” she said.
The 7th One South Asia conversation focused on the challenges of leveraging technologies to develop human capital and help South Asia manage risks and shocks.
Cécile Fruman, Director of Regional Integration and Engagement for South Asia at the World Bank, moderated the event. Dr Khondekar A. Mamum, Bangladesh, Rabi Karmacharya, Nepal and Anita Gurumurthy, India, also spoke.
Posted in Dawn, le 18 September 2021