A person in a wheelchair.


A new app for social security benefits applications

In Pakistan, people with disabilities are entitled to social care, but the barriers are high. An app makes it easier for them to access this support.

Social protection is a priority in Pakistan and many types of benefits are available to support people with disabilities. But before they can claim them, they have to be registered as having a disability, and this is a stumbling block. An estimated five million people who are entitled to this support are not registered, although this is crucial. Their disability must be officially recognised for them to take advantage of the services available, such as special education, adapted vocational training and financial support.

Sana Iqbal is a social worker in Haripur, a town in the north of Pakistan. She is committed to promoting people with disabilities. ‘It used to be very difficult to receive welfare benefits. Applicants had to go to various appointments in person to obtain official proof.’ For many of them, this meant long journeys and waiting times, and high transport costs. So they had no choice but to go without state support. A new app solves this problem, says Iqbal: ‘The app makes it much easier for people with disabilities to claim the benefits they are entitled to.’

Digital and simple: 26,500 people are receiving support thanks to the app

The app was developed by the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. GIZ was commissioned to carry out the project by the German Development Ministry. People with disabilities can now use their smartphones to make appointments with doctors. If they meet all the conditions, they receive a digital certificate. The data they enter is automatically fed into a digital social register and benefits are paid out. The app is in high demand, and since 2021 more than 26,500 people have received digital certificates, which they can use to apply for support directly.

Copyright: GIZ

‘We’ve found that the digital certificates make it much easier to apply for social security benefits,’ says Iqbal, who is visually impaired herself. ‘A lot more people are signing up via the app. That’s important because it makes this group more visible and ensures that more funds can be provided to support them.’ The app has made a major contribution here, she says: ‘It’s inclusive and accessible and means that benefits are provided faster.’

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