There is very scant literature on creating or unifying registries to make up a national database of poor households or individuals to be used for social protection programmes (expert comments). Literature on registries tends to relate to the benefits of civil registration (i.e. the registering of births and deaths), or how better to target and register the poor. This report identifies some literature on the issue of creating national databases, outlines the purported benefits of national databases and then explores the background, lessons learned and guidelines from cases studies on Brazil and Kenya.
A national database can either involve bringing different Management Information Systems (MIS) together or leaving the different MIS separate but with mechanisms in place to communicate with each other. When putting in place sharing mechanisms it can help if the different systems have commonalities such as the same software, a common set of fields and a common identifier for individuals (or households) such as a national identity number.
Potential benefits of a unified national database are identified in the literature as:
- Reduced costs and improved efficiency and sustainability.
- Strengthened registration, monitoring and evaluation, and oversight.
- Reduction of benefit fraud and incorrect payments.
- Providing benefits in accordance with need.
- Monitoring time frames, and moving beneficiaries between schemes or withdrawing beneficiaries from schemes when appropriate.
- More effective emergency responses.