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CGD Policy Blogs

 

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.

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.

A close-up of a hand holding a phone. From Wikimedia Commons, photo by Mpande

More than the Sum of their Parts: How an ID, a Phone, and a Bank Account Can Help Achieve the SDGs

As the United Nations General Assembly meets this week, global leaders will be taking stock of their countries’ progress towards the SDGs and mapping out where they still have to go. Our research has shown that, together, financial accounts, ID, and mobile phones can facilitate a wide variety of cross-cutting programs to meet the SDGs, which can be cost-effective at scale.

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