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Options for rapid expansion of social assistance caseloads for COVID-19 responses (May 2020)

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8This Background Note was developed alongside others – most importantly the Strategy Decision Matrix and the Delivery System Decision Matrix – as a technical tool used to structure an independent and unbiased analysis of COVID-19 response options. It does not necessarily represent DFID or GIZ own views or policies.*

1.1 CLEAR OVERALL OBJECTIVES – ‘who is likely to be most affected in your country - and not covered by existing programmes?’

When discussing rapid expansion of social assistance1 caseloads in response to COVID-19 (via new or existing programmes) it will be essential to start by framing objectives clearly: ‘who is likely to be most affected in your country - and not covered by existing programmes?’. How can those caseloads most effectively be targeted, registered and enrolled? The answer, of course, will depend from country to country, but some broad assumptions can be made.


Where new caseloads will be added, most countries have something that can be built on for swift coverage:

• An existing database (e.g. a social registry of potential beneficiaries who are not currently receiving, data on past beneficiaries, a wide set of other data sources of people who are potentially in need)

• An existing information system (operationalised as a software application) linked to that database, potentially with some interoperability or data sharing with other government databases

• An online form/system for data collection from and interaction with citizens

• Existing capacity at local levels of implementation and tried and tested methods for registration The concept is to start with the “easier” approaches to ensure timeliness for certain caseloads and then moving to more complex solutions of push or pull (on-demand) additional registration and enrolment to cover the gaps – potentially in coordination with humanitarian and other non-state actors. Countries that already have on-demand systems will find this a lot ‘easier’, though COVID-19 related contagioncontrol measures and the speed of the surge in need will pose significant challenges but must be considered in order to avoid additional harm.
Key options that are being considered or adopted by countries to rapidly register, enrol, and pay new caseloads during the COVID-19 crisis are discussed in the Table below. These include:

a) Using existing data from the social protection sector in creative ways for emergency expansion/payments via new or existing programme b) Using existing data sources beyond the social protection sector in creative ways for emergency registration (e.g. Civil Registration and Vital Statistics and ID data)

c) On-demand emergency registration via digital ‘windows’ and helplines d) On-demand emergency registration via permanent local offices/capacity e) Ongoing/periodic active outreach Cutting across all of these, the following considerations should be made:

• Many of these options can be overlapped (i.e. they can be complementary) or sequenced – it is most often not an issue of ‘either/or’.

• These registration/enrolment options are discussed separately from the underlying ‘eligibility’ choices of who should benefit. However, some options may be more suited to some forms of ‘targeting design’, as specified within the Table.

• Whatever option(s) are chosen, it will be important to ensure the following:

• Simplified forms, eligibility criteria and documentation requirements (e.g. the importance of ‘pay now, verify later’) and simplified authentication/identification processes, ideally leveraging ID and CRVS systems where possible.

• Safety/reduced risk of contagion across functions, both to reduce the spread of disease overall but also to ensure protection of those with the most extreme risk of vulnerability to COVID-19’s negative health impacts. Many simple things can be done and thought about, see e.g. CaLP guidance/living doc and Helpage summaries (relevant beyond older populations).

• Accessibility to vulnerable groups, especially for on-demand registrations that risk excluding those most in need. E.g. by

i) setting up and staffing additional, temporary offices in locations that are safe and accessible for the target group;

ii) taking registration activities to communities through addition of registration camps or doorstep services;

iii) covering transport costs for vulnerable applicants to travel to social welfare offices elsewhere;

iv) catering to different language/disability needs;

v) leveraging the capacity and networks of informal worker organisations, women’s groups and other CBOs, NGOs, and CSOs.

• Responsible use of data at all stages of the chain (respect for data protection, privacy, etc.) is required, to address the risks of COVID-19 being used to roll out technological surveillance and control. Routine data protection risks are heightened in crisis contexts, and particularly where contact tracing approaches are being used, and need explicit management to ensure populations are not exposed to increased vulnerability. Humanitarian principles and guidelines may be helpful in this context, e.g. the ICRC handbook on Data Protection and OCHA’s guidance on Data Responsibility for COVID