“We would like to digitally register 5 million vulnerable people in South Sudan” reads the request for proposals. It goes on to give the reasons for this – reduce duplicate beneficiaries, improve targeting, reduce fraud, track who receives what and so on.
As our aid systems become more digital, we rely on them for assistance in planning how much aid to bring to locations and if you are not on the list you are at risk of being left behind.
The tradeoff has become personal data traded for aid. This was never the intent and many amazing frontline staff do what they can to assist those not on the list to either get on the list or be given aid anonymously, but more often ‘computer says no’ is the line being said. If you are not on the list and I give you aid, I risk my job because I risk being accused of fraud.