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The "social assistance value chain" showing the steps in a social assistance program and the role of digital technology

Digital Technology to Scale Up COVID-19 Social Assistance: What Have We Learned?

In response to COVID's economic disruption, many countries launched unprecedented relief packages to cushion the economic and social impact of the pandemic. Social protection measures have grown exponentially. In a new policy paper, we draw on early evidence from selected countries on the use of digital technology to implement these government-to-people (G2P) social transfer programs. Our review suggests that an important objective for policymakers in the post-COVID period will be to build on the capabilities developed during the crisis to strengthen social protection and payment systems and render them more inclusive, effective, and sustainable.

The 2000 Bio-metric registration kits that 4200 young registration officers used to register 9,1 million Malawians during the six months nationwide mass registration campaign.

Malawi’s Journey Towards Identification

In 2017, Malawi was one of the only countries in the SADC and COMESA without a functioning national registry and identification system. Supported by the United Nations Development Programme together with several other donors, Malawi managed to achieve universal ID coverage in some 180 days, joining the small club of countries that have been able to effect a major leap in the registration of their peoples in a short time. Its experience offers many lessons of interest to other countries.

A hand holding a mobile phone. Adobe Stock.

COVID-19 Response Underlines the Need for Portable Social Protection Programs

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for a universal and portable social protection system that can uniquely verify people and deliver benefits efficiently and at scale. In most cases, existing programs are not portable, meaning those who live and work in a place other than where they are registered—like many who have migrated domestically for work—are unable to access benefits.

A close-up of a hand holding a phone. From Wikimedia Commons, photo by Mpande

More than the Sum of their Parts: How an ID, a Phone, and a Bank Account Can Help Achieve the SDGs

As the United Nations General Assembly meets this week, global leaders will be taking stock of their countries’ progress towards the SDGs and mapping out where they still have to go. Our research has shown that, together, financial accounts, ID, and mobile phones can facilitate a wide variety of cross-cutting programs to meet the SDGs, which can be cost-effective at scale.

Chart showing survey respondents responses to different issues in the PDS reform in Krishna

Technology and State Capacity: Lessons from “Digital Krishna”

India is now recognized as a leader in digital government service delivery, enabled by the Aadhaar unique identification platform which has registered the equivalent of almost 15 percent of the world’s population. Many service delivery programs have been deployed at the state level, providing a rich comparative context. Some states have struggled to move towards effective and inclusive digitized programs while others have seemingly achieved a sophistication that is on par with, or surpasses, many developed countries’ capacities.

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