WASHINGTON - The World Bank has approved two projects totalling US$ 300 million to help the Pakistani government strengthening social safety nets and to improve higher education. A bank press release says an amount of US$ 200 million is for the Pakistan Social Safety Nets Development Policy Credit, which is designed to establish an institutional and operational framework for an efficient national safety net system. This policy credit - jointly with the Pakistan Social Safety Net Technical Assistance Project approved in June 2009 - will strengthen the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the Governments new national safety net programme which aims to cushion the negative effects of the food crisis and inflation on poor people. Pakistani households are highly vulnerable to income shocks, and existing social assistance programmes cover only a very small fraction of the poor, said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. Assisting the poor and the vulnerable is a key objective of Governments poverty reduction strategy. This project will help build a robust safety net system that provides chronic and transient poor people with both basic income support and access to opportunities that will help lift them out of poverty. The policy credit will help establish a national targeting system based on objective and transparent criteria, supported by strong and transparent institutions for collecting enrolment data, determining eligibility, benefit payment, and for addressing grievances. The safety net programme will have a strong emphasis on monitoring and evaluation to ensure that benefits reach the poor people. The World Bank also approved US$ 100 million to support the efforts to improve higher education. The Higher Education Support Programme Credit will support the governments initiatives to increase participation, enhance quality and relevance and strengthen the efficiency and financial sustainability of higher education institutions. The programme supports the completion of critical reforms undertaken by the government in order to create the conditions to enhance the stock of skilled Pakistanis able to contribute to an economy increasingly based on knowledge and technology.