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An image of an Indian woman wearing a mask.

Delivering Social Assistance during COVID with a “Digital-First” Approach: Lessons from India

As the COVID-19 pandemic started to exact a toll on lives and livelihoods in early 2020, countries imposed strict lockdowns to stem the spread of infections, disrupting economies and societies across the world. With pandemic-induced constraints on in-person interactions, many countries adopted a “digital first” approach to delivering social assistance, primarily cash transfers.

An image of a woman receiving a COVID vaccine.

A Matter of Trust and Coordination: A COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate for Southeast Asia?

As governments worldwide increase their COVID-19 vaccination coverage, COVID-19 vaccination certificates (CVCs) are making headlines as a possible answer to the question of how to reopen economies safely. While countries like Israel and Estonia are well advanced in introducing CVCs, developing countries, as with their vaccination rates, are further behind. In especially interconnected developing regions like Southeast Asia, CVCs present unprecedented collaboration challenges, including that of coordination and trust.

The "social assistance value chain" showing the steps in a social assistance program and the role of digital technology

Digital Technology to Scale Up COVID-19 Social Assistance: What Have We Learned?

In response to COVID's economic disruption, many countries launched unprecedented relief packages to cushion the economic and social impact of the pandemic. Social protection measures have grown exponentially. In a new policy paper, we draw on early evidence from selected countries on the use of digital technology to implement these government-to-people (G2P) social transfer programs. Our review suggests that an important objective for policymakers in the post-COVID period will be to build on the capabilities developed during the crisis to strengthen social protection and payment systems and render them more inclusive, effective, and sustainable.

A hand holding a mobile phone. Adobe Stock.

COVID-19 Response Underlines the Need for Portable Social Protection Programs

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for a universal and portable social protection system that can uniquely verify people and deliver benefits efficiently and at scale. In most cases, existing programs are not portable, meaning those who live and work in a place other than where they are registered—like many who have migrated domestically for work—are unable to access benefits.

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