The webinar “Strengthening Shock-responsive social protection in Cambodia – Lessons learned from a cash transfer to households affected by multiple shocks” was held on August 4th, 2022. The session was moderated by Kelvin Hui who works for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH at the social protection and health project. The speakers were Chea Radeth, Deputy Director, Identification of Poor Households Departments of the Cambodian Ministry of Planning; Kurt Burja, Programme Policy Officer at the World Food Programme Cambodia; and Sophie Hermanns, Advisor in the GIZ project ''Support to the Identification of Poor Households Programme''.

 

Sophie Hermanns

Sophie Hermanns starts the presentation by describing the context of Cambodia. The country in general ranks in the bottom third of the human development index and has some of the worst inequality levels in the region. In addition, Cambodia is one of the countries most affected by climate change and climate shocks occur frequently, flash floods are often seen during the rainy season between May and October. In face of these, the IDPoor programme has been set up so that there can be effective poverty alleviation and coordination of efforts to support families living below the poverty line in order to maintain and hopefully improve their livelihoods.

IDPoor is the programme for the identification of poor households implemented by the Cambodian Ministry of Planning. It stands as the government's mandatory standard tool for defining pro-poor measures and provides regular updates and information on households in need of assistance.

Local administrative structures collect up-to-date data by conducting interviews with families, and based on these interviews, and special circumstances, a decision on the poverty status of each household is taken. The information is sent to the IDPoor database which allows data users who are social service providers in Cambodia to use the data to target their interventions to poor families.

IDPoor aims to reduce duplication of efforts and resources by different institutions, to ensure that the different parts of social assistance are well coordinated so that they have a better chance of improving their livelihoods and to ensure that social assistance is provided to those who most need it.

 

Chea Radeth

Chea Radeth emphasised the IDPoor's contributions to shock-responsive social protection in Cambodia. The first contribution is its effectiveness to operate and collect data. Another positive point is that IDPoor is continuously available for citizens to request interviews on demand, ensuring that households that are falling into poverty because of a shock can be identified by IDPoor at any point in time. IDPoor is considered a gateway for citizens to access governmental and non-governmental social assistance programmes. The system has a real-time synchronisation between the tablets that are used to conduct interviewes and thet national database. The data is available via the website and APIs, which allows for a timely response in case of shocks or crises. For example, approximately 170,000 new poor households (roughly 600,000 people) were identified within four months of the first deployment of on-demand IDPoor. Another contribution to the increased shock-responsiveness of the social protection sector in Cambodia is IDPoor’s integration with the Platform for Real-Time Impact and Situation Monitoring (PRISM) which is operated by the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM). PRISM is a web-based platform which supports government agencies to rapidly assess climate hazard risks and their impact, to inform disaster risk management and social protection programs. PRISM simplifies the integration of geospatial data on hazards, such as droughts and floods, along with information on socioeconomic vulnerability to present decision makers with actionable information on vulnerable populations exposed to hazards. In the future, IDPoor will provide information on households in areas affected by floods and droughts, so that data users can better target their services. IDPoor has also identified families living in areas affected by confinement measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, IDPoor will be extended to households living close to the poverty line and having certain vulnerabilities that increases their risk of falling into poverty. 

After listing to the contributions, Chea Radeth spoke about the next objectives, which are to launch a new IDPoor IT System with new functionalities; introduce a fully digitalised data collection management; introduce the Public IDPoor, which will be an online platform where people can request interviews on behalf of the household and submit objections or suggestions.

 

Kurt Burja

In 2021-2022, WFP, with financial support by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH provided on behalf of the German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), implemented a cash transfer programme to support households impacted by multiple successive shocks and stresses, including the major floods of October 2020 that affected around 800,000 people in 19 provinces. In 2021, flash floods occurred again in many of the same areas that had occurred in 2020. The objective of the cash transfer programme was twofold. First, it sought to address the essential needs of beneficiary households, including access to food and support for recovery from shocks, which was very much intended to complement one of the Government's cash transfer programmes that started at the beginning of the

pandemic. The second objective was to create an operational model for shock-responsive social protection programmes that could be adopted institutionally and rolled out to address future shocks. This was strongly rooted in the social protection framework, which is a policy document developed by the General Secretariat of the National Social Protection Council that provides eight response options for how social protection programmes can respond to large-scale shocks while complementing and reinforcing emergency responses by disaster management actors.

A key element of the programme design was the use of government data and information systems for the geographic and household sectors, targeting primarily the poor. It employed results as well from WFP's monitoring and evaluation, which included process and outcome monitoring and an internal exercise of lessons learned. Some of the key findings and implications for shock response and social protection need to be highlighted. With satellite data, there has been a much greater availability of high-resolution access to data on the extent of flooding than in the past, which has provided government partners with a quick overview of areas affected by climate risk.

Another point is that the satellite data on flood extent has not been validated in the field in all areas to ascertain the severity and impact on the community village. Off-field validation can help improve geographical targeting and can minimise inclusion and exclusion errors, which have an impact on the timeframe for response. This relates both to resources and capabilities on the ground, but also more generally to whether government and partners are willing to take a forward-looking approach. Historical and current flood extent data can be readily combined with IDPoor data to support preparedness. In addition, the process of establishing flood alert thresholds is underway which could trigger early action with defined standard operating procedures and funding through disaster risk management and social protection systems for flood-affected populations.

IDPoor data can be ideal to help households and can be used to respond to large-scale shocks to poor, at-risk, or other vulnerable households that are not yet included in the IDPoor database. This is linked to ongoing discussions on using other available data such as the civil registry and the creation of a broader social registry in the future. It is also important to note that WFP's cash transfer programme was only one intervention among a much larger set of interventions by government and partners across disaster management social protection systems, so it is important to take a holistic view in this regard.

In terms of the challenges mentioned, it can be highlighted the challenge of keeping the IDPoor database up to date by municipal authorities, as well as concerns about the reach of the programme, especially in remote areas or with particularly vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or people living with a disability. The move to the fully digitised process and ongoing efforts to strengthen capacity and the complaints feedback mechanism are important steps to address some of these issues.

 

Conclusion

When nations must respond to the effects of disasters, computerized systems like the IDPoor are essential to supply social protection promptly. Despite the complexity of social protection delivery systems, which include numerous interconnected systems like social registers and ID systems, it is expected that such systems will enable countries to adapt quickly to shock circumstances. Additionally, they can be utilized to offer social protection programmes effectively, minimizing errors in inclusion and exclusion while enhancing administration and user experience. There is no doubt that cutting-edge technology must be used to strengthen shock-responsive social protection. The full recording of the webinar is available, as well as the slide presentation. Feel free to also watch the Q&A portion of the webinar.

Social Protection Programmes: 
  • Social assistance
    • Social transfers
      • Cash transfers
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Programme design
    • Targeting
  • Programme implementation
    • Informations Systems (MIS, Social Registry, Integrated Registry)
Social Protection Approaches: 
  • Shock-responsive social protection
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Resilience
Countries: 
  • Cambodia
The views presented here are the author's and not socialprotection.org's