Empowering Informal Workers with Disabilities Through Social Protection: A Case Study of Twin City
Author: Aqib Rauf


Empowering disabled informal workers through social protection programs is crucial for promoting inclusivity, ensuring their well-being, and reducing inequality and poverty. However, due to a lack of access to social protection programs, that can help to mitigate the adverse effects of the economic crisis. The economic crisis poses different challenges for informal workers, especially disabled informal workers.

This study aims to identify the causes of insecurities that informal workers face during the economic crisis and the core need for social protection to cope with the economic crisis. To achieve the objectives this study draws on qualitative data through in-depth interviews and key informative interviews with disabled informal workers and policymakers/experts. This study explores the challenges, and perspectives of disabled informal workers, shedding light on their vulnerabilities, especially during the economic crisis, and the perspective about the social protection program.

It has been found that disabled workers in the informal sector faced (income insecurity, food insecurity, health insecurity house insecurity, and unemployment) disabled informal faced during the economic crisis. More than 60% of disabled informal workers faced reduction during the economic crisis. At the same time, the expenditures on basic needs such as food, and health expenditures were significantly increased due to inflation, unfortunately, 84% of disabled informal workers were not receiving health insurance/ sehat salat program. The insecurity of housing increased as the rent increased, and the energy prices (gas and electricity) also increased making them a more vulnerable group of society. 55% of disabled informal workers faced unemployment during the economic crisis of these workers 79% were unemployed for more than 30 days. Our analysis showed that 92% of disabled informal workers did not receive any kind of social protection during the economic crisis. 86% of beneficiaries of these programs face difficulties in availing of these benefits.

This research also explores the institutional gaps in different thematic areas such as (transparency and integration of data, development of programs, targeting mechanism, monitoring and evaluation mechanism, development process of these social protection programs, registration process of disabled informal workers and their informal settings, coordination of between institutions and social protection programs implementation of laws and policies, service delivery of programs and awareness of these programs and role of NGOs). The transparency of data is the main issue at the institutional level as there is a lack of professionalism in data collection, and proper SOPs are not being followed during data collection. The data of different institutions cannot be used for targeting the population because of flaws in the data. There is no reliable database for the identification of informal workers and disabled informal workers. The social protection programs are not being developed systematically, there are issues of inclusion and exclusion of deserving populations. The programs have subjective targeting so one known person gets benefit from social protection programs. There is no efficient mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of these programs, the self-evaluation of programs by the institutions leads to inefficiency in programs. There is no delegated social protection program for disabled persons. Disabled persons face difficulties and pay high costs to avail of facilities of social protection programs. The registration of disabled persons and informal settings is also a main issue because the process of registration is complex and individuals have to face rent-seeking behaviors of officials. The setting of informal workers doesn’t come under the law so disabled informal workers receive low wages. There is no proper mechanism for coordination between social protection programs, the programs don’t support each other in sharing data and other relevant information. There is a gap in coordination between institutions such as the link between academia and practitioners is missing for social protection programs. The law and policies are not being implemented effectively because of weak enforcement mechanisms and a lack of awareness at the public and private levels. The NGOs have limited geographical coverage for the protection of deserving populations. NGOs can’t play their role in the whole country due to budget constraints. The life cycle approach is missing in the social protection programs of Pakistan.

This research advocates for the development and implementation of inclusive policies and programs for the empowerment of disabled informal workers, which enable them to access adequate social protection, improve their livelihood, and fully participate in society.

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Supervisor: Hafsa Hina

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