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Early research on biometrics’ effectiveness for benefits delivery reviewed in World Bank ID4D report

Emergency response measures demonstrate importance of ID systems

Grow digital ID system for emergency and reap long term rewards, World Bank says

Evidence is beginning to accumulate on the effect of biometrics adoption in the delivery of social benefits, according to the World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) 2020 Annual Report.

The World Bank says robust systems for digital identity and civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) can help nations identify beneficiaries for COVID-related support, as well as in vaccine delivery.

The World Bank committed more than $700 million to support the implementation of digital ID and civil registration during 2020, which it says is its largest financing increase since 2014, when the ID4D initiative launched.

COVID-19 responses and the impact of ID on them is examined, including steps taken by ID4D to help countries respond to the emergency.

The three pillars of the initiative, thought leadership and analysis, global platforms and bringing stakeholders together, and actions at the country and regional level, are presented. The report spotlights efforts to include women and marginalized groups in Nigeria’s national ID system, the takeaways from recent impact evaluations, the Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development, the Mission Billion Challenge, progress in the Philippines and Nigeria, and the WURI (West Africa Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion) project, as well as legal and regulatory support and the importance of strengthening civil registration and promoting links to ID systems.

Country actions carried out during the last year by ID4D include support for the governments of 13 different countries, mostly in Africa, and regional initiatives were carried out in the Caribbean and Africa.

One of the newest initiatives carried out by the World Bank Group is the G2Px Initiative to enable government-to-person payments, carried out in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a sister initiative to ID4D. The project is providing support for 35 countries designing and implementing digital social assistance payments,

ID4D also organized a workshop in December to review how much is known about the impact of ID systems on development, including identifying research gaps and priority research topics. Recent studies shared during the workshop looked at the effect of biometrics adoption for service delivery, such as in Aadhaar-based authentication for welfare benefits in Jhakhand and the biometric verification of Pakistan’s Benazir Income Support Program (BISP). Forthcoming research considers the impact of biometric verification on women’s access to and control over BISP benefits.

World Bank and ADB support ID programs for benefits delivery

The World Bank has joined with the Asian Development Bank to strengthen the resilience of South Asia’s pandemic recovery efforts with financial and technical support for digital infrastructure used in social assistance programs, according to an editorial in The Financial Express.

Pakistan’s Ehsaas program, which verifies beneficiaries’ identities with biometrics, is among the systems that have benefitted from $15.4 billion in financing lent by the World Bank and ADB in response to COVID-19. The ADB contributed to the program through its $300 million emergency assistance fund, and its $500 million Covid-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) program, with coordination from the World Bank.

The program has reached 15 million beneficiaries, according to the article.

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