Social registries are information systems that collect socio-demographic information on the population or a subset thereof. Social protection schemes and programmes can use social registries for outreach, intake, registration, and determination of potential eligibility for one or more social benefits or services.

Social registries can provide the technical solutions for implementing social protection schemes and programmes more efficiently and effectively, in line with the eligibility criteria defined in national legislation.

To do this efficiently, social registries need to allow for dynamic open and continuous access to registration, so that anyone who who is entitled to a benefit or services can access it at any time. This is the last mile of delivering on the human right to social protection.

Outreach, intake and registration

A key feature of a social registry is a standardised registration tool or questionnaire. This is designed to collect the information needed to determine eligibility for a social protection programme. The data collected with the registration tool may be complemented with additional data available in other administrative databases.

The process of registering or updating information on new people, families or households may be ongoing (in what is often described as a 'dynamic social registry') or periodic (usually via large scale household surveys conducted every three to eight years) or a combination of both.

Dynamic social registries are inclusive and able to rapidly respond to beneficiaries needs throughout their lifecycle. They are also well-suited to respond in cases of shocks and crises.

The availability of a single government-recognised form of unique identification greatly enhances the effectiveness of a social registry. It helps verify the uniqueness of the individual, family or household registered. It provides a key to link and verify data available in other administrative databases. It may also be needed for electronic payments where Know Your Customer (KYC) legislation typically requires a government recognised unique identification number.

Assessing needs and conditions

Social registries collect and compile data on the socio-economic and/or sociodemographic conditions of potential beneficiaries. This is used to support targeting in programmes that use demographic criteria such as age or socioeconomic characteristics such as poverty as an eligibility criteria.

Data collected when registering a person, family or household into a social registry may be complemented or verified with data available from a wide range of administrative databases. The table below provides an example of other administrative databases that a social registry may query to either verify data or request additional data. Note that the specific scope of administrative databases varies from country to country.

DatabaseData verificationAccessing additional data

National Identity database

Verify beneficiary details

Request family tree

Civil Registration and Vital Statistics

Verify person is not deceased

Request age, gender and marital status

Land Registry

Verify if person owns land

Request value and type of land

Vehicle Registry

Verify is person owns a vehicle

Request make, model and age of vehicle

Business Registry

Verify if person owns a business

Request ownership stake

Tax Authority Records

Verify income information

Request employment status

Health Information Systems

Verify health coverage

Request medical history

Education Database

Verify educational status

Request qualifications attained

Employment Records

Verify employment status

Request job history

Disaster Risk Management (DRM)

Verify disaster impact

Request property damage assessment

Housing Authority Records

Verify housing situation

Request household status and composition

Retirement Records

Verify retirement status

Request details about the retirement income and status for household members

Governmental Loans Information

Verify the governmental financing status

Request details about the government financing information for individuals

Social Services Records

Verify the current social services provided to the household

Request details about the current social assistance services provided to the household

Interoperability with other administrative databases can strengthen a social registry in two ways. First, it helps to minimise the amount of data collected on the registration tool. Assuming that there is a widely used unique identification number, the social registry can complement data collected when registering new people, families or households with that available in other databases. Second, it helps to verify the accuracy of data. Responses to questions used to assess the poverty level of a household can be cross referenced with data available in land, vehicle and business registries.

Generating targeting lists for social protection programmes

Once a person has been registered into the social registry, they can be included in a targeting list for a social protection programme. Each programme differs and may assess beneficiaries based on

  • Beneficiary type - does the programme enrol individuals, families, households another type of entity?

  • Eligibility criteria - does the programme have specific criteria that beneficiaries must meet? (eg households below a specific poverty level or only people with disabilities)

  • Exclusion criteria - does the programme have specific criteria that will exclude beneficiaries? (eg they cannot be land owners)

  • Enrolment process - are potential beneficiaries enrolled automatically or must they request to be enrolled?

A social registry must be able to generate a targeting list based on the eligibility and exclusion criteria defined by each programme.

Benefits of interoperability

Some of the benefits of improving the interoperability between social registry and SP-MIS:

  • Efficiency: Interoperability can help to improve the efficiency of social protection programs by making it easier to identify eligible beneficiaries and track their progress. For example, if the social registry and SPMIS are interoperable, then the SPMIS can automatically identify beneficiaries who are eligible for a particular program based on their data in the social registry. This can save time and resources.

  • Transparency: Interoperability can help to improve transparency and accountability in social protection programs by making it easier to track how funds are being used. For example, if the social registry and SPMIS are interoperable, then the SPMIS can track how much money has been spent on each beneficiary and how the money has been used. This can help to ensure that funds are being used effectively and efficiently.

  • Accuracy: Interoperability can help to improve the accuracy of social protection programs by making it easier to verify the information about beneficiaries. For example, if the social registry and SPMIS are interoperable, then the SPMIS can verify the information about beneficiaries by comparing it to the data in the social registry. This can help to ensure that the right people are receiving the right benefits.

  • Targeted and personalized service delivery: Interoperability enables programs to be tailored to the specific needs of beneficiaries by utilizing data from the social registry to identify eligible individuals and deliver interventions that address their unique circumstances. This ensures that resources are efficiently allocated to those who need them most, enhancing the effectiveness and relevance of social protection initiatives.

  • Equity: Interoperability can help to ensure that social protection programs are equitable by making it easier to identify and address disparities in access to benefits. For example, if the social registry and SPMIS are interoperable, then the SPMIS can use the data in the social registry to track how different groups of people are accessing benefits. This can help to identify disparities in access to benefits and take steps to address them.

  • Cost-effectiveness: Interoperability can lead to cost savings by streamlining administrative processes, reducing duplication of efforts, and minimizing errors associated with manual data entry. This efficiency translates to more resources being allocated directly to social protection programs, thereby maximizing their impact on beneficiaries.

  • Data-driven decision-making: Interoperability empowers policymakers and program managers with real-time access to comprehensive data from both the social registry and SP-MIS. This wealth of information enables evidence-based decision-making, allowing for timely adjustments to program parameters, resource allocation, and strategic planning in response to changing societal needs and emerging trends.

Interoperability in Action #6

Interoperability in Action Workshop #6 focused on interoperability between the social protection (SP) system and the Social Registry.

The workshop aimed to facilitate discussions and knowledge-sharing among stakeholders regarding the integration and seamless information exchange between these two systems. Participants explored strategies, challenges, and best practices to ensure efficient interoperability and enhance the effectiveness of social protection programs.

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