How CommCare Supports Cash Transfer Programs Around the World
March 17, 2020;
3 min read
The humanitarian aid system is constantly under severe stress. At the end of 2018, more than 70 million people were displaced by conflict (UNHCR, 2019) and natural disasters affect 218 million people each year (HPN, 2012). Often, the best way to support humanitarian efforts in these events is with cash transfers. These transfers allow these organizations to disburse cash among vulnerable citizens, such as displaced populations and citizens living in conditions of extreme poverty.
Indeed, the use of cash transfers has grown considerably in recent years. In fact, it is estimated that $2.8bn were disbursed through cash and vouchers in 2016 alone (CaLP, 2018). Cash assistance has supported humanitarian organizations in switching from traditional in-kind transfers (i.e. food, construction materials, etc) towards a more flexible option. While in-kind transfers can rely on the complex supply chain logistics of delivering specifics goods in places that are usually difficult to access, cash transfers can empower citizens to decide what their purchasing needs are while also supporting the local economy (GSMA, 2019).
However, these benefits are also accompanied with inherent challenges, such as meeting the demands of a large number of recipients and ensuring the accountability of those managing these large sums of money. To combat this, technology has supported not only delivery of the money through the existing financial institutions but monitoring and evaluation processes, as well. Today, technology presents new pathways for supporting populations in need, when they need it.
Dimagi is one of the many actors supporting this effort to deliver cash efficiently by using technology. By partnering with organizations such as the World Food Program (WFP) and Collaborative Cash Delivery Network (CCD) in Colombia, Dimagi’s CommCare platform is allowing organizations reach speed and efficiency of data collection and analysis, which results in cost savings over time and growth in the impact made.
With CommCare, humanitarian aid organizations are building mobile systems that allow them to register cash transfer recipients, identify potential duplicates in their registries, integrate those registries with other existing national databases, and coordinate with other organizations. The platform can also support reporting systems that will help finance teams to control the cash disbursements with their financial institutions and provide higher visibility into the beneficiaries’ history over extended periods of time.
We are proud to work with many organizations looking to efficiently manage their cash delivery programs, each taking a different approach to tackling a growing humanitarian trend:
UN WFP Cash Transfer – Zambia
The Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ), with support from DFID, UNICEF, and Irish Aid, is currently implementing social cash transfers (SCTs) in 13 districts with the objective of reducing extreme poverty and vulnerability. The program is transitioning from a 15-year old paper-based system to CommCare, with the aim of addressing problems of data accuracy and completeness during registration and follow-up activities. Enumerators, Community Welfare Assistance Committee (CWAC) leads, and District officers are equipped with a CommCare application to manage the enrollment, support, and tracking of all beneficiaries in the system. Case management enables field staff to review and update details to existing beneficiary data within the mobile application. Follow-up visit forms take into account beneficiary details and are customized according to the history of a given case. SMS reminders enable communication with beneficiaries and field staff without direct access to the application. Reminders are automated based on the information stored in each beneficiary’s case record. This solution goes beyond accurate data collection and closes the loop in the approval, payment distribution, and follow-up processes.
HOPE Mobile Money System – India
HOPE is a system to pay existing incentives directly to mothers’ and community health workers’ (ASHAs) bank accounts. HOPE currently allows computer-based input of events for mothers, which, once approved by the block accountant, trigger payment directly to their bank accounts. An API has been developed to integrate data captured through another CommCare app with HOPE, compiling a list of all mothers and the “HOPE” events that have occurred for those mothers, which eventually lead to payment.
Colombia has experienced a large inflow of migrants from Venezuela in the last few years. In 2018, more than 1.2 million people intended to stay in the host country. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCDE), the current inflow shows characteristics of a refugee crisis and border cities such as Cucuta and Riohacha have seen a rise in their unemployment and poverty rates (OCDE, 2019).
Recently, Dimagi has been invited to collaborate in a project led by the Collaborative Cash Delivery Network (CCD) to support two of the Consortia with the design of a mobile tool that helps their non-governmental organizations (NGOs) deliver cash to the Venezuelan migrant population currently living in vulnerable situations in Colombia. The project will tackle the following needs:
Reducing the number of duplicated beneficiaries by focalized database queries
Improved cash delivery accountability by increasing data collection security
Support to organization’s finance team providing beneficiary reports
Platform flexibility to adopt a cash delivery system that combines online/offline processes.
To learn more about how Dimagi and CommCare can help with financial inclusion programs around the world, visit our sector summary on Financial Inclusion.