Exploring how lives are saved through humanitarian stack, decentralized ID
The second and third segments of the latest ID4Africa Livecast delved into how non-governmental organizations, governments and other international outfits working on humanitarian projects are putting the humanitarian stack and the decentralized digital ID model to work in meeting the needs of beneficiaries in different sectors of intervention.
The humanitarian stack is a combination of functional ID, payments and supply chain platforms used to enable delivery of social services.
In segment two of the virtual event moderated by ID4Africa Chairman Dr. Joseph Atick, the CEO of enterprise mobility management solution provider Famoco Lionel Baraban explains how his company is building on the humanitarian stack to help the World Food Programme (WFP) in the successful implementation of humanitarian programs in more than 50 countries of the world.
The system dubbed SCOPE CODA — CODA in an acronym for Conditional On-Demand Assistance — has been designed with regard for interoperability, scalability, easy deployment, and data protection and security.
The platform is said to seek to bring a data revolution to save and improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Baraban explains how the system, designed in collaboration with the WFP, works in serving vulnerable people using functional digital identity and biometrics. Beneficiaries, he said, are issued smart cards which enable them carry out their transactions with ease, after an enrolment process.
As he explains, the system facilitates service delivery, protects the data of beneficiaries and improves transparency in transactions. Through it, paper registries are replaced by digital records, transactions respect human privacy and security, and tracking of digital transactions is enabled.
SCOPE CODA has also been built to work for a variety of interoperable services such as payments, special protection programs, cash-based transfers, access to transport services, traceability of supplies, secure storage of personal data, and the prevention of fraud, the Famoco CEO mentions.
Explaining the interoperability of the system further, Baraban says it is at two levels. The first level has to do with digital terminals which are used for biometric enrolment and verification at the point of service, while the second level is with the biometric card issued to beneficiaries.
“These terminals can be used to serve the beneficiary population of the WFP and also be reused to create a social safety net. You create interoperability for different services by just adding new applications on to the terminal. The interoperability is not done at cloud level, but it’s done at terminal level,” says Baraban.
Interoperability at the level of the card, he explains, means that “you can use it for payments within the WFP beneficiary program or for other payment programs using different systems.”
“The idea is having a card on which you can store different applets which serve different types of populations or serving the same population on different needs. This is what we call building blocks of the digital humanitarian stack,” adds Baraban.
The official cites the example of South Sudan, where the technology is helping health workers in the country to record information, track individuals’ nutrition and health status, and identify when a person has recovered and when the treatment was successful.
It has been deployed for humanitarian purposes since 2015 and they have collaborated, among others, with the WFP which has worked on projects targeting around 40 million beneficiaries representing 2.5 million households in over 50 countries.
Andrea Muller, the product manager in charge of identity at Famoco also took the floor to talk about the importance of data collection and storage in the humanitarian stack.
She notes that collecting quality data from the field is important as it enables the NGOs to better assess the needs of the people and to prioritize their response efforts and channel resources where they are most needed.
She says while good quality data is necessary for ensuring that humanitarian activities are effective, efficient and accountable, there is need for privacy of such data which could be biometric data, data on personal health information or financial details.
She underlines the fact that the humanitarian stack is about building blocks for multi-purpose and sustainable digital touchpoints. And in the case of the Famoco and WFP collaboration, the digital terminals and biometric cards can be used for payments, to monitor and track supply chains, as well as for social protection purposes such as enrolling new customers or to validate transport tickets.
Decentralized ID for service delivery
This part of the virtual discussion looked at decentralized digital ID and how it is used as a response to the challenges that come with using centralized digital identity systems such as highly concentrated databases for humanitarian and social protection programs.
In this segment, Heloise De Tassigny from digital ID firm Gravity and Priyanka Patel of the Kenya Red Cross Society explain that decentralized digital identity can enhance quality service delivery in humanitarian settings and empower beneficiaries.
They both talk about DIGID (Dignified Identities in Cash Assistance), a decentralized ID platform developed by Gravity in collaboration with the Kenya Red Cross Society, which has been used for social protection purposes in Kenya and Uganda since 2018.
Tassigny says Gravity provides the decentralized digital ID platform which empowers individuals and data subjects to own, control and securely share their private verifiable data through a digital wallet. The platform, she notes, also ensures interoperability among different organizations.
“The individual has control over their credential and can decide when and under what circumstances to share this information to access a service. The data can be stored either on their device or on a secure decentralized storage system. The wallet can be used via a web or mobile application,” she explains.
With the system, beneficiaries receive verifiable credentials from trusted sources into mobile wallets that can then be shared with other organizations in order to access their service, she adds. This creates a more secure, transparent and user-centric experience which empowers individuals to control their own personal data.
The official says they are also working to include other local organizations that can benefit from the interoperable nature of the solution.
Emphasizing the importance of DIGID, Patel, for her part, recounts that the system is meant to enable beneficiaries receive humanitarian assistance by establishing credentials that indicate their eligibility, allow them to have access and control over their data, improve data protection, privacy and security, ensure that the digital solution works in low connectivity areas, and also allow interoperability between NGOs and technology vendors.
DIGID, a product whose development was supported by a consortium comprised of the Norwegian Red Cross, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Norwegian Church Aid, and Save the Children Norway, has been tested for cash assistance and migration programs in Kenga and Uganda, and there are plans to expand its use.
Meanwhile, the livecast ended with a presentation from the CEO of Paycode, Gabriel Ruhan, who explained how the company has been using its flexible and interoperable biometric payment solution to serve last mile communities using functional ID.
Ruhan mentions Paycode’s work in rural Zambia where it is using its biometric payment solution to drive financial inclusion by helping the unbanked get social grants, among other financial services.