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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.

Screenshot of a video from the event Data as a Development Issue

Reconciling Calls for “More and Better Data” with “Responsible Data Use”

The “more and better data” movement is based on the premise that well-intentioned governments can better serve the poor and vulnerable if they have basic information about them. Until recently, this notion would have seemed uncontroversial. But growing concern about the risks created by the misuse of data—particularly personal data—has led to a shift in attitudes in the development community.

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