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Volume 489: debated on Friday 20 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) purpose of, (b) duration of and (c) number of participants in the study tour on social protection in Pakistan funded by his Department via the Economic Policy Research Institute in March 2007 was. (263971)

The Department for International Development funded a study tour to South Africa, for 13 government of Pakistan officials between 25 February and 4 March 2007, to review South Africa's social protection programmes. The purpose of the visit was to allow the officials, working on social protection programmes in Pakistan to see at first hand, how programmes of this type have been designed and implemented in a country, which has a recognised and effective social protection system. The tour was organised by South Africa's Economic Policy Research Institute and included a field visit to Soweto.

Following the visit, Pakistan finalised a national social protection strategy, which was published as government policy in the middle of 2007. This strategy is now being used as the framework for rolling out wider social protection programmes in Pakistan. These include the Benazir Income Support Programme, which is now one of the cornerstones of the government's efforts to protect poor people, especially in the current period of economic instability.