Strong identification systems can have significant development impact. There is evidence of this in a number of developing countries. In Pakistan, for instance, the government used its national identification database to provide flood relief payments to 1.5 million families. In Bangladesh, the national identification database is used by both the public and private sector, including the National Board of Revenue, the Bangladesh Bank, and all six mobile operators, to authenticate the identity of applicants registering for their services.
For low- and middle-income countries looking to establish or improve identification systems, knowing what works and why is key. Research on best practices enables governments to choose the right approach for their countries. For instance, some countries such as Morocco plan to establish a national population register that will draw on the country’s existing databases to create a unified register with a unique identifying number for each registered individual. Other countries such as India have leapfrogged over traditional paper-based systems and established a biometric identification system. Some countries have found that linking benefits to possession of ID cards increases enrollment in the ID database—the Benazir Income Support Program (a cash transfer program) in Pakistan made possession of the National ID card a prerequisite for enrolment which acted as an incentive for the poorest of the poor to obtain NID cards.
With growing global interest in this area, governments, development organizations and thinktanks are looking to analyze, discuss, and design approaches to identification for development.
To reach the ambitious goal of “making everyone count” and enabling access to services and rights for all through modern identification systems, the ID4D initiative will coordinate research, encourage shared approaches, and reach a global consensus on the way forward.
The ID4D initiative engages in three main focus areas:
- Thought Leadership
- Global Convening
- Country and Regional Engagement
1. Thought Leadership
ID4D aims to provide policy planners, development organizations, think tanks and foundations with a common platform where they can share learning and knowledge on identification and advance their understanding of the topic. The objective is to help achieve consensus on the use of ID systems and best practices.
Analytical pieces include topics such as identification systems architecture and business models, digital ID toolkits, global datasets, role of private sector and PPP models, and women and identification.
ID4D plans to facilitate new research in areas such as:
- The role of identification in the global refugee crisis;
- The impact of identification on gender equality, financial inclusion and effective targeting of pro poor programs;
- Assessments of country and regional approaches to identification systems;
- And case studies on best practices in identification systems from India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere.
2. Global Convening
Most countries and regions want to establish credible and scalable identification systems, easily recognized and respected both within and outside their borders. For this to happen, there must be global agreement on principles, minimum standards, and international legal rules for identity management.
To reach this goal, ID4D will engage with standard setting bodies, private sector associations such as GSMA and SIA, UN agencies, private foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Omidyar, financial sector players and others to develop an inclusive, multi-stakeholder dialogue and consultation process.
Joint discussion papers, consultative meetings, annual and bi-annual events (such as the World Bank Annual and Spring Meetings, the Mobile World Congress, and ID4Africa regional events) can bring together interested partners to share knowledge and ensure cohesive action and understanding across the many agencies and organizations interested in this agenda.
3. Country and Regional Engagement
There is no single approach to improving an identification system. What succeeds in one country may fail in another. Countries and regions wanting to upgrade or scale up their identification system should first examine:
1. Legal and regulatory framework for civil registration and identification,
2. Accessibility: Barriers and obstacles to timely and universal registration
3. Institutional and administrative robustness,
4. Use and management of technology, and
5. Interoperability and interconnectivity of the legal and functional registries.
ID4D performs country assessments and provides technical assistance and lending. Thirty country assessments have been completed over the past year. Technical assistance or lending have been provided to about 12 of these countries.
While ID4D is advancing single-country engagements, it also aims to explore regional approaches to ensure that identification systems are developed in an integrated, interoperable manner to enable improved regional cooperation and cross-border integration. In doing so, ID4D is building on the experience and lessons of the European Community and Mercosur.