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Brief

BASIC Research Theme Brief

Managing the Risk and Benefits of Digital Technologies in Social Assistance Provision

Published on 4 February 2022

Aid agencies, governments, and donors are expanding investment in the digitisation of their beneficiary identification and registration systems, in digitised systems for cash payments, and in the remote and algorithmic control of humanitarian and social protection programmes. This is happening in ways that may facilitate the move from humanitarian assistance to government provision and may enable the delivery of shock-responsive social protection. Yet humanitarian and social protection actors are increasingly concerned about a range of risks and accountability vacuums associated with the adoption of these technologies.

While claims for the benefits of digitisation often rest on cost savings, data relating to these costs and benefits are not easily accessible. There is also an urgent need to adopt approaches to value for money in this sector that recognise the digital dignity of beneficiaries. A knowledge gap exists around how the movement towards biometric identification and algorithmic management using humanitarian and social protection data will affect the interests of vulnerable populations – so too does a gap in research that is focused on the standpoints, interests, and priorities of these populations.

Cite this publication

Faith, B. and Roberts, T. (2022) Managing the Risk and Benefits of Digital Technologies in Social Assistance Provision, BASIC Research Theme Brief, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/BASIC.2022.025

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Authors

Image of Becky Faith

Becky Faith

Research Fellow

Image of Tony Roberts

Tony Roberts

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
doi
10.19088/BASIC.2022.025
isbn
978-1-78118-942-9
issn
2040-0209
language
English

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