Identification and registration of beneficiaries for SP responses in the wake of COVID-19: challenges and opportunities


Across countries, a general trend can be observed during the COVID-19 crisis: social protection is seen by most governments as one of the key instruments to respond to the negative socio-economic consequences that the COVID-19 pandemic brings along for their population. Never has the world witnessed the use of social protection systems at such a large-scale, being it through the extension of already existing social protection programmes or the implementation of new schemes for diverse population groups. However, a key challenge for almost all countries is to use scarce resources efficiently and effectively, while at the same time ensuring that people affected by the crisis are supported as fast and adequate as possible. 

Social protection registries and information systems play an important role in this regard. Many countries have already implemented solid registries to identify potential vulnerable populations in need for social protection over the past couple of years. Others have to start from scratch or have to drastically redesign their current approaches to make them work during this crisis. Some countries have started to use and build on other (digitalized) government registries and/or link them to social protection information systems to identify beneficiaries of newly implemented or extended social protection responses to COVID-19. All these approaches also bring along the opportunity to build up more solid and flexible social protection registration and information systems in the long-run.

There is a general consensus among experts that this is not the time to design restrictive poverty-targeted schemes as large segments of the population of most countries is affected by the crisis in one way or the other - and therefore at risk of falling (further) into poverty. However, there is a need for governments to identify key information parameters that can be collected swiftly in order to identify and register beneficiaries, identify their specific needs and quickly deliver the support they are eligible for, also taking into account data protection issues.

Usually, when newly implemented or extended social protection programmes open up for registration and enrolment, large crowds of people come together, waiting in queues and (overcrowded) spaces for their turn. As one of the key principles applied in most countries to stop further spreading of the virus is to avoid crowding, innovative solutions are needed to overcome this bottleneck. Technology can help to address this challenge. IT solutions are also key to link and integrate existing government information systems to trigger the necessary information on (potential) beneficiaries of SP-responses to COVID-19.

This webinar, therefore, discussed the following questions:

  • Which approaches for identification and registration work best to ensure that people in need for extended or new social protection programmes get smooth and timely access - carefully taking into account specific country circumstances?
  • How can governments quickly collect and process key information about potential beneficiaries of these programmes?
  • Which technology solutions are available and ready to be used to support identification and registration processes in times of social distancing? 

The webinar also put a spotlight on selected country cases to illustrate the challenges governments are currently facing in this regard, as well as to showcase practical solutions being implemented and applied.



Valentina Barca, Independent Consultant

Richard Chirchir, Development Pathways


Nikos Nikolidakis, GIZ


This was the thirteenth webinar of the “Social protection responses to COVID-19” webinar series. The series is a joint effort initiated by the IPC-IGGIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Australia Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) collaboration with the platform, and in cooperation with partners from different organisations. Join our online community ''Social protection responses to COVID-19 [Task force]'' to learn more about the initiative and future webinars.