Many countries have launched unprecedented relief packages to cushion the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This short review considers some initial lessons emerging from selected countries around the use of digital technology to implement these government-to-people (G2P) social transfer programs. Information is still limited on how well the programs have functioned; in particular, there is a dearth of rapid demand-side survey evidence on the experience of beneficiaries receiving transfers and the likely magnitudes of inclusion and exclusion errors. Nevertheless, the emerging picture provides some indications of how investments in digital systems and their deployment along the social transfer value chain have been facilitating the response. Lessons from the COVID-19-related scale-up of social assistance can be harnessed by developing countries to rethink and strengthen the architecture of social protection systems in the future.
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