Using technology to deliver social protection: exploring opportunities and risks

Providing cash transfers to vulnerable groups reduces vulnerability and chronic poverty; but delivering cash to remote, rural locations can be expensive and insecure. Alternative delivery systems using technology are thus being piloted. This article uses examples from southern Africa to highlight the opportunities and risks involved in using technology to deliver social protection, with particular focus on two schemes in Malawi. It concludes that there is great potential for the use of technology in delivering social protection, especially if employed at a national scale and taking advantage of the full spectrum of uses to ensure cost-efficiency.