Cash Transfer Programming are increasingly at the heart of emergency response, being a fast, efficient and flexible tool to respond to diverse needs and act as a safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable people. In the framework on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, cash transfers have been the type of social protection instrument most used by governments in the region – representing approximately 50% of total responses.
The webinar Adaptation on CTPs in Latin America and the Caribbean to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic set out to share experiences from Latin American and Caribbean countries to show how they have adapted and used CTPs to respond to COVID-19; in particular, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia. The presentations focused on key operational aspects of the responses, such as the identification and registration of beneficiaries and the provision of new benefits, highlighting relevant operational innovations. It also explained how complementary cash transfer strategies have been combined to reach various segments of the population, sharing considerations on the speed, appropriateness and coverage of responses, as well as lessons for future investments in social protection.
That webinar was on and 20th event in the webinar series on social protection responses to COVID-19 took place on July 7, 2020. It was organized in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
The webinar included presentations by experts such as Ezequiel Volquez and Miguel Tejada, from the Government of the Dominican Republic; Oscar Navarro, from the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and Rodolfo Beazley, independent consultant. In addition, Ana Solórzano of WFP moderated the discussion.
The Dominican Republic experience
Miguel Tejada, Director of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the program Progresando con Solidaridad (PROSOLI), began by explaining the context of social protection in the Dominican Republic, which was strengthened by the 2004-2005 financial crisis and has been consolidated over the last 14 years, becoming a 'third level' social protection, focused on the prevention of the three climatic shocks that affect the island (storms/hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts). He then went on to illustrate the 4 institutions that support the Social Protection Network (RPS):
- SIUBEN (Unique System of Beneficiaries), which identifies and classifies families according to their state of poverty in line with the multidimensional poverty index and an environmental vulnerability index.
- PROSOLI: the operational arm of the PSR, carries out monetary transfers and subsidies, accompanying families in a socio-educational framework.
- ADESS (Administrator of Social Subsidies): the financial arm of the PSR, manages the funds and relations with the banks and the network of businesses linked to the programme.
- CTC (Community Technology Centres): spaces focused on closing the digital divide of the beneficiaries.
Ezequiel Volquez, director of the Administrator of State Subsidies (ADESS), then went on to explain the Dominican government's response to the pandemic, the 'Stay Home' package. This one is based on five pillars:
- Horizontal and vertical expansion of Social Protection programs, going from an initial coverage of 810,000 households to 1,570,000 through a complementary identity card to the PROSOLI card. The amount increased from RD$ 825 (20 USD) to RD$ 5,000 (87-89 USD); with an increase for homes with the elderly, disabled or sick people.
- Comprehensive communication strategy.
- Increment in the number of shops in the social supply network.
- Adaptation of the services of Progresando con Solidaridad
- Institutional synergy.
Finally, the speaker mentioned two complementary aids: the FASE programme, an unconditional monetary transfer to workers whose companies contribute to the Social Security Treasury and have closed operations due to social distancing; and the Support Program for Independent Workers (Pa'Ti), which covers informal workers to make up for the lack of Social Security coverage
The case of Bolivia
Oscar Navarro, from the Ministry of Economy and Public Finance, began his speech by emphasizing the high labour informality that characterizes Bolivia, and how the government faced the drop in income of its population through a bond policy, covering the loss of income with cash transfers:
- Initial bonds (72 USD) for families with children enrolled in primary and secondary education, extended to children in special education and technical institutes It is estimated that this program has reached 2.5 million households, allowing children to replace the school breakfast they received at school with this income.
- Family Basket (57 USD), allocated to the vulnerable population identified by WHO studies: adults over 60 years old registered in the national programme Renta Dignidad; mothers who are pregnant or have given birth in the last 9 months; and people with disabilities.
- Universal bonds for non-salaried persons between 18-60 years of age who do not receive any of the other bonuses (workers in the agricultural sector, in supply centres, etc.)
To implement these bonds, already existing administrative structures have been used to allow for agility in payments.
Making cash transfers enables beneficiaries to cover their own needs, ensures transparency of the process and reduces transaction costs (such as transportation or stockpile). In addition, there is the possibility of collecting the bond throughout the Bolivian financial system, with extended hours to avoid crowding.
To conclude, the speaker added that the bonds reach 91% of the beneficiary population. The remaining 9% live in areas not covered by the financial system, and mobile brigades for payment have been established to access these remote areas.
Third, Rodolfo Beazley presented the main trends in the use of social protection to respond to the effects of COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean. The presentation included experiences of adjustment or adaptation of programs, such as school feeding programs, vertical expansions and expansions to new beneficiaries. He focused on processes and innovations for the identification and registration of new beneficiaries, including the use of social registers, and delivery mechanisms. He highlighted as main lessons the important role of social protection in the response to the pandemic, the importance of preparing systems for sudden increases in the demand for services and benefits and the need to reduce the existing fragmentation of social protection systems in the region, in order to build towards universal systems that guarantee fundamental rights.
The webinar concluded with an interesting Q&A session available here
This blog post is also part of the responses from Social Protection to COVID-19 webinar series. The series is a joint effort initiated by IPC-IG, GIZ on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) of Germany, and the collaboration of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Government of Australia (DFAT) with the platform socialprotection.org, and in cooperation with partners from different organizations.
Join our online community ''Social protection responses to COVID-10 [Task Force]" for more information about the initiative and future webinars.
Translated from Spanish by Silvia Nieto Cortés