Using Social Registries to Develop Effective Tools for Household Targeting


Adopted in 2018, the Malawi National Social Support Programme (MNSSP II) reflects the Government of Malawi’s commitment towards reducing poverty and vulnerability for its population. The MNSSP II takes a harmonized systems approach to build and implement comprehensive social protection programmes, while simultaneously adapting social protection instruments and systems to ensure vulnerable groups affected by various crises, both within and outside the social protection programmes, are identified and supported as efficiently as possible.

In this regard, Malawi’s Unified Beneficiary Registry (UBR) plays an important role. Using a harmonized data collection tool, the UBR is a database that collects, organizes, stores, processes and shares socio-economic and demographic information to help link potential individuals and households with appropriate social protection programmes. The UBR contains detailed and aggregated data which makes it possible to coordinate individual social protection programmes under the MNSSP II, and to monitor and produce periodic reports on programme outreach.

Since its establishment in 2016, the UBR database has successfully collected information from over 2 million households (approximately 8.4 million people) in 21 districts, therefore reaching approximately 21% of the Malawian population. However, it is still in the early stages of implementation and so there are some challenges facing the UBR (such as low coverage in some districts and a lack of interoperability with other key management information systems and registries). COVID-19 has further exposed and intensified these gaps. To ensure that no one in need of support is left behind, the Malawi government and their development partners are working to improve the quality of data stored within the UBR, increasing coverage and ensuring usefulness of this information to help its users design effective targeting tools that can quickly identify ultra-poor individuals or households according to both their lifecycle and their level of vulnerability to a crisis. 

As part of the mid-term review of the MNSSP II webinar series (watch the previous session here), this webinar aimed to provide a platform for social protection experts from Malawi and elsewhere to exchange knowledge, experiences, and ideas for tackling the key challenges that governments currently face when using social registries to develop effective tools for targeting households based on unique needs and situations.



Patricia Zimpita, Director, Public Service Reforms, Poverty Reduction and Social Protection Division of the Malawian Ministry of Economic Planning and Development

Dalitso Kalimba, Deputy Director, Social Protection, Poverty Reduction and Social Protection Division of the Malawian Ministry of Economic Planning and Development 

Sabine Cerceau, Social Protection Advisor, Poverty Targeting and Social Protection, GIZ, Cambodia

Krishna Ramesh, Senior Manager, ID Insight, Zambia

Valentina Barca, Independent Social Protection Expert (former SPACE Team Leader)


Moderator: Anthony Land, Independent Consultant