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Rapid advances in digital technology, particularly in digital payments and identification systems, can be harnessed to transform the way states implement poverty-reduction programs and to help achieve the SDGs. CGD’s work helps clarify linkages among digital payment systems, identification, and the achievement of the SDGs.
Together with a lockdown and an information campaign, India’s early response to the Covid-19 pandemic included the launch of PMGKY, a major social protection package. This built on previous digital investments including in direct benefit transfer to financial accounts as well as on several established programs. The paper reports on the implementation of PMGKY, based on a household survey conducted 4-6 weeks after the lockdown and launch of the program. PMGKY successfully delivered benefits to millions of households, including food rations. At the same time, in spite of the information campaign, people did not always realize that payments had been delivered into their accounts while some also faced logistical difficulties in reaching cash-out points because of the severe disruption related to the pandemic and the lockdown.
COVID-19 creates additional challenges that policymakers need to consider while designing and implementing new social assistance programs. This note describes how Bihar addressed the policy challenges to implement the program and the lessons it holds for India and globally.
Tariq Malik, former chairman, National Database and Registration Authority, Pakistan
Pakistan is a leader in the application of identification systems and technology to a range of development issues. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) of Pakistan has become a central player in a number of program areas and has been internationally recognized for its expertise, including winning many awards for excellence.
This paper surveys 160 cases where biometric identification has been used for economic, political, and social purposes in developing countries. One primary conclusion is that identification should be considered as a component of development policy, rather than being seen as just a cost on a program-by-program basis.
In rural areas of developing countries, education programs are often implemented through community teachers. While teachers are a crucial part of the education production function, observing their effort remains a challenge for the public sector. This paper tests whether a simple monitoring system, implemented via the mobile phone, can improve student learning as part of an adult education program.