Giving Compass’ Take:
• Alex Robinson and Rakib Avi, at Stanford Social Innovation Review, explain how digital cash transfers provide a safety net for nations experiencing life-threatening economic shockwaves during coronavirus.
• How can we streamline digital cash transfers efficiently, equitably, and transparently? What can you do to support vetted organizations providing digital cash transfers to marginalized groups?
As the COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves around the world, policymakers have been scrambling to adapt responses in a rapidly evolving context. In a country like Bangladesh, for example, where 85 percent of the population earns less than $5.90 a day, government-imposed lockdowns have quickly transformed from public health measures into full-blown humanitarian crises.
To mitigate the profound disruption to life and livelihood caused by efforts to contain the virus, governments must rapidly scale social support to vulnerable households. For people living in extreme poverty, cash support can be a lifeline until the economy reopens. To respond to the threatened food security of millions of families that are now being pushed into poverty in Bangladesh, BRAC, a leading global development organization based in Bangladesh, decided to launch a cash transfer program to 200,000 of the most vulnerable families in the country, both the urban poor living on daily wages and ultra-poor families living in rural areas.
As economies remain shuttered during lockdown, many countries across the global south are looking to digital financial services as a way to safely and efficiently deliver emergency cash relief to vulnerable populations. At BRAC, we are rapidly scaling digital cash transfers and have reached almost 164,000 at-risk families to date.
Many stakeholders will have a role to play in ensuring that these transfers can be done well at scale. Policymakers must prioritize flexible onboarding, temporary fee waivers, and adequate protection measures.
Now more than ever we have to remain adaptive, do away with antiquated systems, and identify simple, scalable innovations that can help build the resilience of underserved communities. Done well, digital cash transfers can help extend a badly needed lifeline for millions of people for whom the choice of staying back home is a luxury they cannot afford.
Read the full article about digital cash transfers by Alex Robinson and Rakib Avi at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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