The social protection delivery chain relies on data and information systems for various aspects, such as registering and enrolling beneficiaries, making payments and providing data for policy decision-making.On the programme of the Global Forum on Adaptive Social Protection, the second Plenary sessions and three parallel sessions that took place right after it discussed the potential of data and information systems, particularly digital solutions for social protection. This blogpost summarises the key messages of the aforementioned sessions. 

Rodrigo Assumpção, CEO of DataPrev, Brazil’s Social Security Information and Technology Enterprise, set the scene by stating that data and information systems are “the 21st century infrastructure that belong to everybody”. He further added that governments must take an active role in guiding information and communication technologies (ICTs), as these are the main backbone of service delivery. However, developing, managing, and governing ICT systems is a time-consuming and iterative process.

The Director-General of Togo’s National Identification Agency (Agence Nationale d’Identification), Silété Devo, presented an overview of the country’s highly acclaimed Novissi programme’s digital infrastructure and systems used to identify people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic via mobile phone data, electoral register, and satellite imagery. These data were leveraged to provide cash transfers to vulnerable populations via mobile money within a few weeks from the onset of the crisis.

Naveed Akbar, Director-General of Pakistan’s Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), introduced the concept of political will to the equation, stating that he “simply cannot over-emphasise the importance of political will at the highest level for digital systems development.”

Countries can learn from each other’s successes in the digital sphere within the Digital Convergence Initiative. When developing their digital systems, countries are encouraged to weigh the benefits of using licensed against open-source software, such as openIMIS. For further examples of trade-offs that governments must face when implementing digital social protection solutions, please check out the BMZ Healthy Developments page.

Novel uses of data in Adaptive Social Protection

Parallel session 2.1 reiterated the need to link traditional and novel data sources (social media, mobile, financial, satellite data on rainfall and droughts, etc.) to better design and implement policies. However, using non-traditional data sources poses additional challenges in terms of human capacity. In most cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was only possible to leverage these data sources through the help and involvement of academic institutions.

Rethinking social registries in the face of multiple crises

The main takeaway of Parallel session 2.2 was that although the setup features of registry and broader information systems are crucial for shock response, it is also vital for the population to be properly informed of social registries via outreach campaigns. They must also have access to robust grievance and redressal mechanisms if they believe that they should be eligible for a programme. Social registries should allow for the dynamic inclusion of beneficiaries via continuous registration to one or more social protection programmes, depending on their needs over the life cycle. This should help registries to contribute to Adaptive Social Protection and progressively move towards universal social protection.

Sustainable digitalisation using open standards and open source tools

In Parallel session 2.3, the focus was on open source software and the need for strategies to avoid duplication of efforts in developing digital solutions.   

This blogpost is the third in a five-part series on the Global Forum on Adaptive Social Protection, which took place in Berlin from 13 to 15 June 2023, and was co-organised by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the World Bank, implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the platform. It gathered over 300 social protection stakeholders on site and the high-level panels and Plenary sessions were livestreamed to online audiences. For the complete summaries of each one of the sessions of the event, please visit this documentation page.

Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Programme implementation
    • Informations Systems (MIS, Social Registry, Integrated Registry)
Social Protection Approaches: 
  • Adaptive social protection
  • Digital social protection
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