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Somalia Databases and Beneficiary Registries for Cash Transfer Programming: An Overview of the Beneficiary Registration and Data Management Practices of NGOs, UN and Government in Somalia – October 2018

Somalia receives significant amounts of humanitarian and development assistance every year. While poverty, vulnerability and food insecurity are high in general, there are spikes in the need for immediate humanitarian assistance to save lives during the severe droughts that recur every five to seven years. Those years require massive donor investment and scaling up of humanitarian actors' presence and operations on the ground. Continuous low-level sectarian conflict, violence and political instability, as well as large-scale internal displacement have also eroded community support systems' capacity and made it difficult to sustain progress toward reducing poverty, vulnerability and the need for assistance.

Nonetheless, the humanitarian community has taken important steps in recent years to facilitate a harmonisation of approaches and targeting of beneficiary populations, which should help make the allocation of donor resources more efficient and effective, while at the same time enabling more long-term programming and evening out assistance between spikes and valleys. The first such step has been a general move to cash-based assistance, which is widely considered both fast and effective in the Somalia context, given the resilience and responsivity of markets and the relatively easy access to financial services for the vast majority of the population. The second important area of progress has been the revival and effective use of coordination fora such as the Cash Working Group, which has more than 80 members and represents a very high percentage of the humanitarian cash transfers reaching beneficiaries in Somalia. Finally, enabled by the enhanced collaboration between actors on the ground, NGO consortia were formed to pool resources and create overarching structures for cash transfers and resilience-building programmes. Meanwhile, government capacity (including nascent digital registries) and the role of government in prioritising the flow of resources to beneficiaries is growing.

Funded by an ECHO grant on social protection in fragile contexts, WFP commissioned this small study to take stock of the beneficiary registration practices and systems being used by the main humanitarian/resilience actors in Somalia, as well as government actors that maintain databases of vulnerable households and individuals in Somalia. This exercise falls within the context of WFP's wider efforts on social protection in Somalia. A number of studies in recent years have referenced the opportunities for coordination of caseloads and harmonisation of assistance between the large-scale humanitarian actors, whose joint experience can provide important learning for the development of the cash component of a future national safety nets system.

One of the key building blocks for such harmonisation would be to coordinate beneficiary registration efforts, most notably to collect beneficiary data in a way that allows beneficiaries and households to be clearly identified across multiple databases and registration systems. This would pave the way towards being able to establish what each household will have received during a given period from which humanitarian or other actor.

Source: World Food Programme