Assessing multidimensional poverty

Often when experts talk about poverty they use the measure of people who live on less than 1 US dollar a day.

However, this measure has often been criticized. First of all, because currency exchange rates fluctuate continuously, it becomes difficult for individual countries to  talk about poverty using the US dollar as a measure.

But more importantly, when poverty is defined only by looking at the income an individual or a household receives (whatever currency is used), then a number of other factors are ignored.

Recently, the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), in collaboration with the UNDP Human Development Report, announced the release of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

According to OPHI, the new measure recognizes that people’s lives are affected by more than just their income, and so the MPI looks at individuals’ poverty as a combination of their education, health, and standard of living.

The developers of the new index believe that this more complex measure will help policy-makers and development practitioners better understand the causes of poverty and then tailor their interventions accordingly. OPHI has used the MPI to assess poverty across 104 developing countries, and the results will be featured in the 20th anniversary edition of the UNDP’s Human Development Report which is due for release in October.

Those who are interested in learning more can explore global multidimensional poverty using an interactive world map. You can also examine country specific summaries for more details on your part of the word, and have a look at recent news coverage and editorials on the MPI. You can download a booklet containing some short individual case studies, by clicking on the image above.

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Where next for social protection?

Recently, researchers and advocates working to promote the adoption of social protection policies in southern Africa got together and asked: Has social protection in sub-Saharan Africa lost its way?

Their disussions resulted in a thought-provoking document, which is available on Wahenga.net here,  as well as here.

The document springs from meetings hosted by the Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme (RHVP), along with  the Centre for Social Protection (CSP) at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia (UEA-DEV), and the Social Protection Programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

The basic problem the paper poses, is that over the past decade, donors, researchers and advocates have spent a lot of time and effort on a range of activities, which have ultimately yielded few results. Activities have included the financing of pilots and demonstration projects, building up evidence of the impact of social protection programmes, giving training and support to implementing ministries, mobilising civil society and lobbying parliamentarians.

But despite the investment of plenty of money, energy and technical expertise, these efforts have yielded patchy results. Some governments have introduced significant social protection programmes (such as Lesotho’s Old Age pension), but many others have not been convinced.

The document goes on to ask, “What’s wrong with the way outsiders are engaging in social protection in Africa? It outlines several problems, including:

Social protection has been too externally-driven: Donors and NGOs have preferred to introduce social protection through limited pilot projects, but these have not been taken up and translated into national programmes, for a range of reasons.

Government programmes and preferences not given enough prominence: Most governments have their own programmes and priorities for reducing poverty and vulnerability, which differ from models preferred by outsiders  – but these have not been given enough attention.

Imported approaches may not be appropriate: Many of the concepts and models come from western ideas of social welfare and may not fit local contexts.

As result of these problems and failures, the discussion paper proposes five options for development partners to pursue in future:

  • Learn from government-driven programmes and work with governments to monitor, evaluate, improve and extend them;
  • Work through appropriate institutional mechanisms, at regional and national levels;
  • Learn lessons for national implementation, rather than from pilot projects;
  • Be driven less by instruments and locate social transfers within a broader national social policy agenda, by paying more attention to social protection objectives – including reducing vulnerability; and
  • Find new levers for supporting African governments, based on a more sophisticated understanding of the political economy in each national context.

Finally, the authors put forward 10 guiding principles for how development partners should approach their work on social protection in Africa. Among these are:

  • Recognise the importance of social protection: Social protection remains a vital tool for achieving inclusive growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Support national policy priorities: First identify the national vision for social protection, then design interventions around those objectives, starting from what is already in place.
  • Involve participants: Engage social protection participants in vulnerability assessments, programme selection, design choices and delivery.
  • Focus on outcomes: recognise that social protection is not an end in itself (numbers of people covered by social protection), but rather a means to an end (reduced poverty and vulnerability).

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Cash transfers reduce dependency in Namibia

This example of how the pilot Basic Income Grant in Namibia helped reduce recipients’ dependency is taken from the RHVP Frontiers of Social Protection Brief no 5: Dependency and Graduation.

How cash transfers reduced dependency in Namibia

In Namibia, a Basic Income Grant (BIG) is being piloted in a severely impoverished rural community, where unemployment stood at 64% in November 2007 – much higher than the national unemployment rate of 37%.

From January 2008, every adult in Otjivero-Omitara was given N$100 (US$12) each month, unless they were already receiving a social pension. In July 2008, six months after the BIG was introduced, unemployment in Otjivero had fallen to 52%, while the proportion of those still unemployed who were looking for work had risen significantly. Much of the increased employment was in the informal sector, with women and men using the BIG cash as working capital to engage in income-generating activities.

One woman set up a home bakery. “After the introduction of the BIG I started my business. I bake traditional bread every day. I bake 100 rolls per day and sell each for N$1. … I make a profit of about N$400 per month.” Another woman started a dress-making business. “Since we get the BIG I bought materials and I am making 3 dresses that I will sell. When I fi nish … I will start with new ones. I sell a dress for N$ 150.

These small enterprises operate within the community, with other community members using their BIG cash to purchase the products. This illustrates how injections of cash can stimulate local economic growth. Average monthly per capita income in Otjivero rose from N$160 to N$303, an increase of 89% in just six months, of which N$100 (63%) is directly attributable to the BIG cash transfer, and N$43 (27%) is additional productive income leveraged by the BIG.

This evidence refutes the prejudicial belief that poor people who are given free cash or food will become lazy and choose to work less than before, thus becoming totally dependent on the cash transfers for their survival. In fact, the opposite is true.

Guaranteed social grants give poor people the means to invest in productive activities and improve their livelihoods.

The BIG is also giving people independence in other ways. The BIG has helped many young women to become less dependent on men for financial support. The rapid spread of AIDS in Namibia (which has one of the world’s highest HIV-prevalence rates) has been attributed partly to transactional sex, driven by poverty and economic stress. An assessment of the BIG after six months of implementation found that the cash transfers gave women more control over their sexuality and increased their economic independence.

One shopkeeper in Otjivero claimed that his domestic worker had resigned after receiving the BIG, because she no longer needed to work. But the worker refuted this interpretation, saying that she had been underpaid and badly treated by her employer.

“I complained many times about my low salary but there was no increment. I was not even getting something to eat during lunch hours. The way they talked to me was also not proper. I therefore decided to stop working. When I left them, they accused me that I left work because of the BIG, but this is not the case. I left them because of the low salary and bad treatment”.

These examples of cash transfer impacts can be interpreted as reduced dependency of women on men, and of employees on exploitative employers. They also indicate enhanced empowerment of poor and vulnerable Namibians in relation to those who are wealthier and more powerful.

Click here for more on Dependency and Graduation.


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Dependency and Graduation

A recent research brief, written by Stephen Devereux for the Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme (RHVP), looks at two issues that keep cropping up in debates about social protection:  ‘dependency’ and ‘graduation’. Both issues are commonly raised by governments and donors that are sceptical about making firm, long-term commitments to social transfer programmes.

Often, skeptics talk about ‘dependency syndrome’ – a tendency for recipients of regular social transfers to become permanently reliant on these ‘handouts’, and to lose any incentive to improve their circumstances using their own initiative and resources.

‘Graduation’ is often presented as an antidote to dependency. The argument is that financial assistance to poor individuals and families in distress should be limited in scale and time in order to avoid the ‘dependency trap’, and complementary programmes should be put in place to ensure that beneficiaries are able to ‘graduate’ from ‘handouts’ and become self-reliant.

In his paper, Devereux argues that these concerns about the risks of social transfers are based on generalisations and flawed thinking. He provides evidence from several studies and real-life examples of social protection programmes to support his view.

Dependency

Firstly, all societies accept that certain members must be supported – young children, older persons, the chronically ill and severely disabled. So ‘dependency’ must differentiate between those who are genuinely unable to care for themselves, and those who need temporary support but can be assisted to become self-reliant in the future.

Secondly, the concern to avoid dependency confuses two quite separate roles for social protection:

  • temporary support for economically active people who become vulnerable due to a livelihood shock or humanitarian emergency (e.g. unemployment insurance for workers who are retrenched, or famine relief for drought-affected farmers); and
  • continual support to those people who are not able to work to provide for themselves (e.g. infirm elderly widows living alone with no support).

While people in the first category clearly have the potential to ‘graduate’ once their circumstances improve (e.g. if they find a job, or when the next harvest comes in), people in the second category have much lower prospects of graduating – and should not be expected to do so.

Several social protection programmes in Africa do recognise this fundamental distinction, by combining different types of support:

  • cash or food transfers with a labour requirement for eligible people who are able to work; and
  • unconditional cash or food transfers for eligible people who are unable to work.

It is important also to emphasise that while many social protection programmes may seem to create dependency on the state in the short-term, they may actually reduce dependency on the state in the long-term.

For example, child benefits, school feeding and conditional cash transfers, all provide immediate relief to poor households, but they also enhance children’s health, nutrition and access to education. This provides big potential returns to the national economy in the next generation.

Food aid and dependency

It is widely believed that food aid damages African agriculture because it removes incentives for production. The argument is that large imports of free or subsidised food aid depress local food prices and create disincentives to farmers to produce for the market, so that production falls and dependence on further food imports increases. The distribution of food aid also stifles the development of a competitive commercial grain marketing sector.

Recently, a panel survey in Ethiopia tested this version of the dependency argument across 1,470 households. A comparison of food aid recipients and non-recipients found that recipients pursued a more diversified portfolio of livelihood activities, and were more likely to provide assistance to others.

The survey found no significant differences in social and economic behaviour between households who receive food relief and those who do not.

Even more striking, a cross-country analysis found that food aid was associated with an increase, rather than a decline in national food production.

Cash transfers and dependency

Economic theory suggests that people who receive regular free transfers will be discouraged from seeking work, especially if the value of the transfer is close to the income that the recipient could expect to earn from paid employment.

The ‘dependency trap’ refers to a situation where transfer recipients have no incentive to take steps to stop receiving these transfers (such as finding work) – or even worse, when employed people leave work and ‘choose leisure’ instead, preferring to survive on state benefits.

These fears about ‘dependency syndrome’ are common in affluent northern welfare states. But is there evidence of similar behaviour by poor recipients of social transfers in African countries?

On the contrary, Devereux says there is intriguing evidence from southern Africa that social grants have precisely the opposite effect.

In South Africa, a study of the Child Support Grant and Old Age Pension found that adults living in recipient households were more likely to seek work, and more likely to find work, than people in similarly poor households that do not receive these grants.

The authors of that study speculate that this is because social grants give beneficiaries the resources and economic security they need to invest more in job searching – by spending some of this cash on transport costs, child care, and so on.

Similar findings have been reported from large-scale conditional cash transfer programmes in Latin America.

In Namibia, sceptics greeted the introduction of a pilot Basic Income Grant in one community with assertions that this would convert the local population into idle drunkards. What actually happened was strikingly different (for details, see: Cash Transfers Reduce Dependency in Namibia).

Graduation

The concept of ‘graduation’ describes a process whereby recipients of cash or food transfers ‘graduate’ from depending on external assistance, to a condition where they no longer need these transfers, and can therefore exit the programme.

Though it might seem a simple idea, graduation is extremely difficult to define and implement. Graduation is not only about attaining a certain level of food consumption or cash income. Sustainable graduation means that recipients must be able to:

  • generate enough future food and income;
  • be resilient against future shocks.

How does one then assess whether and when a household is self-reliant and resilient, and no longer needs social assistance? This requires defining graduation criteria and setting thresholds that participating households must reach.

The notion of graduation suggests steady progression up an income scale – but livelihoods in rural Africa are often unpredictable and uncertain. Farming communities and pastoralists face unpredictable weather and other threats to crop harvests and livestock herds.

Even if a household appears to have passed an income or asset threshold at a point in time, it is impossible to predict whether the household is about to suffer a major crisis (e.g. a drought or disease outbreak) that will decimate its harvest or livestock herd, leaving the household acutely vulnerable to hunger, destitution and even death.

Evidence on graduation

Two ongoing social protection programmes in Africa that have grappled with defining and implementing graduation operationally are the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia, and the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP) in Rwanda.

Both case studies reveal the complexity of graduation: the difficulty of establishing realistic graduation criteria (especially incorporating indicators of resilience), the incentives that programme managers face to graduate participants prematurely (and the risks of doing so), and above all, the necessity to acknowledge that many recipients of social transfers have no prospect of graduating, and will need permanent assistance.

Conclusion

Evidence from many African countries challenges the notion that social transfers induce ‘dependency syndrome’.

First, the social protection that does exist in much of Africa provides very limited benefits, and is often unreliable – so that recipients cannot rely on it to predictably cover all their food and income needs.

Second, even when social transfers are more predictable, continual and generous, the overwhelming evidence is that recipients will use the grants they receive to buy more assets, invest in small businesses, or enter the job market. This in itself could be enough to lift social transfer recipients out of extreme poverty and towards self-reliance.

‘Graduation’ is a concern for social protection programming, because policy-makers strive to avoid ‘dependency’ and because financial constraints and donor funding cycles mean that social transfer programmes often have limited budgets and timeframes.

Experts have struggled to work out what graduation might mean in practice, and many eligible households have little prospect of sustainable graduation, either because of their own circumstances or because of the challenging environment in which they struggle to make a livelihood.

Devereux believes then, that social protection policymakers should perhaps worry less about minimising dependency and maximising graduation, and focus their attention more on building effective social assistance and social insurance systems.

You can download the full brief in PDF form here:


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Call for child-sensitive social protection

A number of donors and organisations are currently working together to try to persuade governments in southern Africa to adopt social protection programmes, aimed at assisting the most vulnerable members of our society. In particular, these organisations would like to see child-sensitive social protection policies being adopted.

The arguments in favour of child-sensitive social protection can be found in a joint statement, produced in mid-2009. This statement was produced and is still being actively used by, DFID, HelpAge International, Hope & Homes for Children, the Institute of Development Studies, the International Labour Organisation, the Overseas Development Institute, Save the Children UK, UNDP, UNICEF and the World Bank.

The statement argues that social protection is important, as it supports progress towards many of the Millennium Development Goals, can boost the effectiveness of investments in health, education, and water and sanitation, and can help the poorest and most marginalised in society attain a decent standard of living.

The statement says that social protection measures should be child-sensitive as children have particular needs, are particularly vulnerable, and that investment in their development can have long term benefits for them, as well as for society as a whole.

So what should child-sensitive social protection do?  It should focus on aspects of well-being that include:

  • providing adequate child and maternal nutrition
  • access to quality basic services
  • supporting families and caregivers in their childcare role,
  • addressing gender inequality
  • preventing discrimination and child abuse
  • reducing child labour
  • increasing caregivers’ access to employment or income generation
  • preparing adolescents for their own livelihoods.

These aims can be achieved using a range of social protection measures such as:

  • Social transfers (regular, predictable payments in cash or kind)
  • Social insurance (supporting access to healthcare and other services)
  • Social services and
  • Policies, laws and regulations that protect families’ access to resources, promote employment and support them in their child-care role.

The document calls on governments and other role players to set priorities and begin taking steps to progressively realize a “basic social protection package that is accessible to all those in need and is fully child-sensitive.”

You can download the full document by clicking on the picture above, or from here. You can also find more information and resources here:

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Finance ministers back social protection

In debates about the need for social protection in Africa, it is often hardest to convince those that hold the purse strings — Treasuries and Finance Ministries — that social protection is needed, and that it is affordable and sustainable.

So social protection advocates can perhaps take heart from the Ministerial Statement which emerged from a meeting of African finance ministers in Lilongwe, Malawi, at the end of March.

The ministerial statement came at the end of the 3rd Joint Annual Meetings of the AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and Economic Commission for Africa Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.  The theme of the conference was: Promoting high-level sustainable growth to reduce unemployment and poverty.

The conference affirmed the importance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and noted that strong policy measures are needed if Africa is to achieve most of the MDGs by 2015. The Ministerial Statement called for particular focus on economic growth that reduces unemployment, particularly, among young people. It called for several other measures, including the realization of a food-secure Africa within five years, acceleration of regional integration, and the integration of climate change into growth, employment and poverty eradication strategies.

Along with this, the ministers recognized “the importance of having in place counter-cyclical and social protection measures to address the impact of global crises, especially on vulnerable groups.” (Paragraph 4)

Paragraph 6 of the statement is particularly powerful:

“We note the disproportionately high-level of unemployment among the young, and the impact of external shocks on vulnerable groups – women, the youth, the elderly and the rural poor – as many of our countries lack effective social safety nets and mechanisms to protect these groups. We stress, therefore, the need for special employment and protection measures for vulnerable groups. In particular, we emphasize the need to promote youth employment and gender equality in the labour market as a means to enhance long-term growth and promote political stability.”

Finally, the ministers also pinpointed the need to implement existing policies and action plans already agreed upon: “we recognize that the non-implementation of existing policies and commitments has constrained progress towards meaningful economic transformation, job creation and poverty eradication in many of our economies. Hence we commit to effectively implement agreed plans of action…” (paragraph 15)

The full statement can be downloaded here, and more information on the meeting is available here.

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Electronic delivery of social cash transfers

As social cash transfers grow in popularity relative to other kinds of social transfers (such as food aid), there’s now an effort to investigate innovative ways of delivering cash to recipients effectively and efficiently. A number of public (government to person) cash transfer projects and programmes have experimented with the use of electronic delivery systems.

In a new paper published as part of the Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme’s (RHVP) Frontiers of Social Protection series, Katharine Vincent looks at some aspects of the electronic delivery of cash transfers. Below is a summary of her paper. The full paper can be downloaded here.

Why the interest in electronic delivery systems?

One of the arguments in favour of giving vulnerable people cash instead of food (aside from other benefits of cash), is that cash is less costly to deliver. But even so, the delivery costs can take up a larger-than-needed proportion of social protection budgets. While cash is clearly less bulky than food, physical delivery of cash is labour intensive. There is a need to hire security personnel when transporting large amounts of cash, and to hire staff to oversee the process of paying individuals their grants.

Delivery of cash also has costs for the recipients, who must travel to a pay point to receive their transfer – costing them money and lost time.
The solution is to deliver cash electronically. This minimises the risk of money going astray, and reduces the demands on staff time. It is also more convenient for recipients – as they can access their at a place and time of their own choosing.

The electronic delivery of cash can be done through a range of mechanisms – debit card, smart card, or cellphone – and using a range of financial infrastructure – banks, automated teller machines (ATMs) and point-of-sale (POS) devices.

Electronic delivery systems lend themselves to private sector participation, where a private sector company – typically a bank, smart card platform, or cellphone operator – partners with the programme implementer.

Rapid penetration of cellphones in Africa

By the end of 2008 there were over 246 million mobile subscriptions in Africa (out of a population of just under 700 million).

In 2008, 58.5% of the population was covered by a cellphone signal, with some countries approaching 100% coverage of inhabited areas – including South Africa, Botswana, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

Woman farmer with a cellphone round her neck in Limpopo province, South Africa (photo by K. Vincent, 2004)

The rapid growth in cellphone ownership and signal coverage has paved the way for consideration of cellphones as a mechanism for electronic delivery, partly prompted by promising evidence for their adoption in private person-to-person transfers.

Probably the best-known example of the potential for cellphones in delivering cash transfers is the M-PESA scheme in Kenya, operated by cellphone service provider, Safaricom.

Just two years after its introduction, M-PESA has over 7 million registered users and 10,000 agents, reflecting the faith that consumers place in the safety and convenience of the product.

In 2008, Concern Worldwide used the M-PESA system as a means of delivering a short-term emergency cash transfer – the Kerio Valley Cash Transfer (KVCT) project. While there were some challenges to overcome, the KHCT project successfully disbursed a total of US$53,000 to 570 households, showing the system to be secure and cost effective.

Following the success of M-PESA, other cellphone service providers have begun to offer similar schemes in other countries – some in combination with mainstream banks.

Opportunities for banks

The banking sector is an integral partner in the electronic transfer of cash, and has a key role to play in the electronic delivery of cash transfers in southern Africa.  More and more, banks are also starting to see that there are commercial opportunities for them in facilitating the electronic delivery of government cash transfers. Firstly, there is immediate income to be made, as cash transfer programmes typically pay a transaction fee per transfer.

Secondly, there are additional benefits: national cash transfer programmes start to make it viable for banks to invest in new infrastructure in previously under-served regions. The banks can use this infrastructure to provide services to a broader group of people in addition to transfer recipients.  And the recipients of cash transfers themselves often start to make use of additional financial services offered by the banks, such as micro-credit and savings.

Examples of electronic delivery

At present, most of the examples of electronic delivery of cash transfers come from pilot programmes. While these experiences have generally been positive, pilot programmes don’t really offer the chance to show how cost-effective electronic delivery really can be. This is because most of the costs are incurred at the start of a programme – in registering participants and setting up necessary infrastructure. After that, costs are minimal – so it is only in a long term, large-scale programme that the real savings and benefits will start to be seen.

So far only one government-led programme in Africa has embraced an electronic delivery mechanism from inception, and that is the recently launched Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) in Kenya.  HSNP is a phased programme that is targeting 300,000 households in the first three years, with a plan to increase to 1.5 million in the second phase.  All recipients receive a biometric smart card, which they can use to access their cash through Point of Sale devices.

Future plans

A number of other national cash transfer schemes are considering following in the steps of HSNP.

  • Swaziland has already entered the second phase of its Electronic Disbursement Programme, which aims to have all 60,000 Old Age Grant recipients banked (at a bank of their choice) by the end of the third phase.
  • The government department with responsibility for Mozambique’s Programa de Subsidio de Alimentos (PSA) (which is a cash transfer), the Ministry for Women and Social Action (MMAS), is looking at the potential for electronic delivery of the PSA. Currently delivery of this grant costs up to 40% of the value of the transfer.
  • In Lesotho, the Lesotho PostBank has recently received a commitment for funds from the Millennium Challenge account to proceed with smart card-based transactions systems, which would be a potential electronic delivery mechanism for the Old Age Pension (and, potentially, the recently announced Child Grant Cash Transfer programme).
  • Ghana is also interested in looking at electronic delivery systems for its Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme.  LEAP is a government-run and funded programme that began in March 2008, and is due to reach 164,000 households (equivalent to almost 20% of Ghana’s extremely poor households) when the national rollout period ends in 2012.

Billboard advertising the e-zwich smart card and POS system in Ghana (photo by K. Vincent, 2009)

Lessons learned

Systems of delivery, whether physical or electronic, are only as good as the registration system on which they depend.  Registration is a vital (albeit time-consuming and cumbersome) part of any cash transfer programme, with the bulk of input required prior to programme introduction.

If a private sector partner is involved, it makes sense for the recipient to undertake the procedures for both programme registration and bank account/cellphone account registration at the same time.  Close collaboration between the programme implementer and its private sector partner is vital, particularly in the integration of registration of recipients in the scheme, and the payment system(s).

It is very important for project partners to agree on terms of reference before they start work. These should outline roles and responsibilities, specify service standards and stipulate penalties for non-compliance. Such an agreement should also consider a procedure for handling grievances, so that recipients do not end up caught in a situation of not knowing who to contact in case of complaint.

If due attention is paid to these administration and implementation arrangements upfront, there is great potential for electronic delivery systems to become the norm in southern Africa.

Case studies

Swaziland’s Emergency Drought Response

In Swaziland, when Emergency Drought Response beneficiaries were issued with bank accounts they were then able to access their cash through debit cards at the ATM.  The photo below shows the scene at the start of the scheme, when understanding of, and confidence in, the banking system was low — and so recipients tended to queue to withdraw their cash on the day of disbursement. As time went on, there was growing faith in the security of their electronic cash, and they began to access it at their own convenience. This spread out the demand, and so the queues (and waiting period) became much shorter.

Emergency Drought Response recipients in Swaziland queue at the ATM to access the cash that has been disbursed into their bank accounts (photo by S. Devereux, 2008).

Biometric smart cards in Namibia

Namibia’s Basic Income Grant pilot project  provided a universal cash transfer of N$100 per month to 930 individuals under the age of 60 (at which age they are eligible for a state pension) in the settlement of Otjivero-Omitara, 100kms to the east of Windhoek.  In line with the existing state pension, delivery of the Basic Income Grant was made through the use of smart card-based savings accounts issued by the state post office, NamPost.  NamPost opened accounts for all the beneficiaries, and waived the standard N$50 smart card fee.

Beneficiary accounts were credited with the N$100 transfer on the 15th day of every month. After this date, beneficiaries could access their funds through the local NamPost by presenting their card for insertion into a Point of Sale device, and having their fingerprint verified.  Beneficiaries got one free transaction a month. Beneficiaries also had the freedom to access their transfer through any of NamPost’s 122 branches through Namibia, at a time convenient to them.

Kenya’s Hunger Safety Net Programme

In order to comply with Kenyan banking law on “Know Your Customer”, bank accounts and biometric smart cards can only be supplied to people who hold a Kenyan identification card.

However, to cater for circumstances where the beneficiary does not have an ID card, or wants someone else to collect the cash on their behalf, the private sector partner Equity Bank has set up a procedure that caters for beneficiaries (those eligible to receive the transfer) and recipients (those eligible to collect it).

When the beneficiary has an ID card and is willing to collect the cash themselves, they are also the recipient (for backup they are also required to nominate an alternate recipient who must be over 18 years of age and capable of travelling to the paypoint).  When the beneficiary either has no ID, or does not wish to collect their cash in person, they must nominate a primary recipient, who will be issued with the smart card (and an alternate who must be over 18 years of age and capable of travelling to the paypoint).

A biometric smart card – as shown in the photo – is issued to the primary recipient.  The card shows the primary recipient’s name, photo, and their household number (which becomes the account number).  The chip contains biometric data (fingerprint records) for both the primary and alternate recipients.

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