The ‘Single Window Services: Models, International Experiences and the Country Case of Brazil’s Cadastro Único’ webinar was held on 17 May 2018. Its objective was to briefly introduce Single Window Services (SWSs), which provide an integrated approach to the delivery of social protection programmes and services, as is exemplified by the case of Brazil’s Cadastro Único.

The webinar was organised by the German Development Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit/GIZ) and moderated by Alicia Spengler (Advisor, the Sector Initiative for Social Protection, GIZ), alongside presenters Martha Bergthaller (Independent Consultant) and Marcos de Souza Silva (General Coordinator for Planning and Monitoring, MDS-Brazil), and discussants Valerie Schmitt (Deputy Director, Social Protection Department, ILO – Geneva), and Veronika Wodsak (BIT-ILO). This webinar officially launched a two publications on international examples of SWS models in the field of social protection from emerging and developing countries, comparing their main features, and providing an analysis to help guide the design and implementation of SWS models commissioned by GIZ.


The webinar recording is available here and the presentation here.

Check out the audience Q&As from panellists: Martina Bergthaller and Marcos de Souza.


Single Window Services: International experiences

The first presentation, conducted by Martina Bergthaller, introduced SWSs for social protection as an integrated approach to social service delivery, by providing local level access points for beneficiaries of social protection programmes. Two features of SWSs were highlighted:

  1. SWSs offer ‘one window’; as an entry point for clients to access various social protection programmes.
  2. The SWS approach devolves different tasks within social protection schemes (application handling, assessment, registration and management) to a single authority at the local level.

The graph below shows the basic elements of an SWS model.


Three benefits of the SWS approach were highlighted during Bergthaller’s presentation:

  1. Demand side benefits: These represent the benefits of SWS clients, including more awareness about social protection schemes, and presenting more clear and transparent information.
  2. Supply side benefits: SWSs reduce the application costs of outreach, registration and enrolment, leading to a more efficient distribution of tasks, and facilitating links and information-sharing between programmes
  3. Long-term benefits: By collecting and managing the relevant information about (potential) beneficiaries of social protection programmes and their specific needs, SWSs can serve as a tool to improve budget planning for social protection programmes,  as well as to support informed decision making to decide which programmes work and which ones don’t - and thereby decrease fragmentation in social protection programme delivery. This paves the way for the establishment of a comprehensive system.  Furthermore, SWS can facilitate the creation of a single registry serving as a warehouse for collecting information from all types of social protection programmes and providing interlinkages between individual programmes MISs as well as other external databases that can be useful for targeting and registration (e.g. civil registration) - with the possibility of dynamic data updating through on-demand mechanisms.


There are three models of SWSs, defined according to the scope of services they provide:

  1. The “Single Referral Point” model: This model is exemplified by community referral mechanisms implemented in several countries of Southern Africa (e.g. Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania). It provides the client with information and assesses the clients, directing them to service providers, meaning the client is responsible for his or her own registration in programmes.
  2. The “Single Entry Point” model: It performs all the tasks presented by the previous model, in addition to fulfilling the beneficiaries’ applications, and collecting and forwarding all necessary documents to responsible parties. This model is internationally the most prevalent of the three models, being found in countries such as Brazil, Chile, China and Pakistan.
  3. The “One Stop Shop”: Based on the idea of bringing together different authorities in a single location, assisting the clients to better exercise their benefits, and educating them on how to enjoy the full range of programmes available. An example of this model is South Africa’s Integrated Community Registration Outreach Programme for Excluded People in Rural Areas (ICROP) – a mobile One Stop Shop.


The graphs below compare the expected investment costs with a) the expected benefits for customers (demand-side benefits) and b) the expected operational cost savings (supply-side benefits) of each model.


The Unified Registry for Social Programmes of the Federal Government (Cadastro Único) of Brazil

Kicking off the second presentation of the webinar, Marcos de Souza Silva (MDS, Brazil) introduced the Cadastro Único, Brazil’s tool for the identification and socioeconomic characterisation of Brazilian low-income families. The central objective of the tool is to identify and characterise the main vulnerable groups in Brazilian society and direct them to the appropriate social protection programmes. It also serves as a database, allowing public policy practitioners to have a vast database of individuals who access social services, and consequently, better plan future social protection programmes. 

Cadastro Único is a collaborative platform, responsible for integrating people, ministries and information, allowing for a better understanding of the country and its demands. It is used for all social policies managed by the Brazilian Federal Government – the tool works in every municipality in Brazil, with some flexibility in its use. Since the country is a federation, relative autonomy is granted to local governments to administer the tool according to their specific needs.

  • 60% of the administration of the Cadastro Único takes place at social assistance facilities (CRAS), distributed across Brazil’s 5,600 municipalities.
  • 40-50% of the Brazilian population is therefore registered on the Cadastro Único.
  • 26,946,898 families (approximately 100 million persons) are included on the single registry, 22 million of which belong to low- income families.

The database allows for a better understanding of which regions are most affected by poverty, the conditions of basic sanitation in specific locations, and much more. Accordingly, the tool supports monitoring and evaluation of social protection programmes. Moreover, every two years all the information contained on the registry undergoes an update, permitting comparative analysis between the information collected.

Silva closed his presentation by emphasising the role of the Cadastro Único not only as a database, but an integration tool. When individuals are registered on the single registry, they can be taught about social policies, educational programmes, health programmes, credit programmes, etc. Once people are registered, they have access to virtually all social policies made available by the government, such as the Bolsa Família Programme, the Social Tax for Electric Energy, Continuous Cash Benefit (BCP) Programme, etc.

Social Protection Topics: 
  • Feedback and complaints mechanisms
  • Programme design and implementation
  • Single registry/Unified database/MIS
  • Global
  • Brazil
  • Global
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