The Social Register of Mauritius is a computer-based application to register and identify the poor and their socio-economic profile so as to inform policy-makers on the effective demand for pro-poor policies. It uses a Proxy Means Test (PMT) to determine eligibility below a given threshold. Its main aim is to improve the targeting efficiency of social programs so that limited program resources primarily reach those who deserve them most.
The Social Register of Mauritius (SRM) is being mainstreamed as the backbone of all new social policies and programmes in Mauritius.
The most important current users of the SRM are the National Empowerment Foundation (NEF) and the Child Allowance (CA) programs with about 30000 beneficiaries.
In its 2015-2019 programme, which is aligned on Vision 2030, the Government of Mauritius has committed to a transformational change in the life of the most vulnerable citizens.
In this context, a Marshall Plan (MP) to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality has been developed with actionable proposals closely related to the Global Goals in areas such social protection, livelihood strategies and equity.
The SRM will be the main platform and provider of data for the implementation of the MP recommendations.
Some of the most urgent measures will be announced in the 2016-17 Budget and implemented in the 2016-2017 financial year.
How does your innovation work?
Prior to SRM implementation, the country’s welfare system was overstretched with the multitude of programmes across several ministries and institutions. The ad hoc eligibility thresholds and assessments of the different programmes added to the complexity of the system. Moreover, the then existing databases did not contain all relevant information for poverty targeting and did not cover the poor who are not eligible for social programmes.
Under UNDP’s technical assistance support, the SRM was designed to become an exhaustive and centralized database of social programme beneficiaries with the following main objective: to improve the targeting efficiency of social programs. Identifying poor households is a complex exercise that requires looking beyond reported incomes. To identify eligible households, an innovative Proxy Means Test (PMT) was designed by UNDP, based on criteria emerging from econometric analysis of the national Household Budget Survey (HBS), rather than on declaration of income.
The PMT is particularly useful in countries where the informal labour market among potential beneficiaries is large (like in Mauritius) – which implies that incomes are not easily quantifiable and verifiable.
The SRM combines 2 approaches to identify beneficiaries for social assistance: an initial self-selection by households themselves who apply for benefits after acquiring information on the program, followed by an administrative determination of eligibility based on the PMT .
Self-selection reduces leakage of resources to non-poor by excluding mostly the high-income earners, while the PMT does so by excluding mostly the middle-income households. The two methods complement each other as follows: use of extensive sensitization campaign raises program awareness among the public resulting in a substantial increase of applications from non-deserving households, hence reinforcing the relevance and importance of the PMT.
A distinction need to be made between the actual database and the functionalities associated with each program – such as data management, eligibility assessment, payroll management, compliance monitoring, program implementation. There is also an important distinction between the unified single household information registry, which includes all interviewed households (which may or may not qualify for program benefits), and the program-specific beneficiary lists (sub-registries), which include only households that have been screened and deemed eligible for specific programs.
The SRM system is built closely around a model which has separate functionalities connected by the single registry through unique identifiers, resulting in a fast and integrated platform. The single registry system stores and manages the basic personal and socio-economic information of potential beneficiaries for all programs for the poor. It provides program-specific beneficiary lists to other systems which are responsible for other functionalities to be carried out. For example, for the School Materials program run by the National Empowerment Foundation (NEF), the list of households which are found to be eligible under the SRM is sent to NEF for program implementation. Under this model, the programs are linkable to each other through a number which uniquely identifies households and individuals: the automatically generated household number for households and the national identify number for individuals.
What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?
The best evidence which supports the positive impact of the SRM initiative is the ISSA (International Social Security Association) Best Practice Award for Africa it won in 2014 on the grounds that “the SRM introduced a national dynamic database to better target poverty-reduction strategies to the most vulnerable segment of the population, to improve efficiency and to maximize coverage, adequacy and sustainability of the schemes.”
The SRM has facilitated the adoption of a one door policy whereby applicants are requested to call at the social security office only once for registration to be considered for any scheme associated with the Register, whether operated by the Ministry of Social Security or other stakeholders. This ensures that the applicant does not have to move to several offices to obtain support while at the same time enabling agencies to focus more on the implementation of the schemes rather than duplicating resources for registration and assessment. It helps to implement newly introduced schemes more rapidly and most of the time, the targeted families are already registered on the database and they can be quickly enrolled on a scheme.
With the Social Register, it is now possible to design schemes that can address specific issues.
For example, for the Child Allowance scheme introduced in 2013 ( a scheme which entitles poor families to an allowance per child attending education institutions conditional to a set attendance rate), it has been possible to:
• estimate the number of families that would be targeted;
• estimate the number of children that would be concerned;
• earmark the different categories of educational institutions that would be involved;
• determine whether it was administratively possible to operate the scheme;
• define a sustainable budget for the scheme.
Since its implementation the scheme now englobes support for more than 12,000 children from
A number of documents (listed in the “In the News” section ) support the positive impact of the SRM. An online e-learning course on the SRM has been developed and is available on the Government e-learning portal to build capacity of public officers who deal with social exclusion in SRM and PMT concepts. (see Evidence section below). The Mid Term Review for the UNDP 2013-2016 Country Programme identifies the establishment of the SRM as the backbone of social policies as a tangible result which is pivotal for improved poverty alleviation (see Evidence section below).
However, no scientific/quantitative impact evaluation has been carried out for the SRM – the reason why we have included “Help us evaluate our impact” as one of the type of assistance needed to grow our innovation.
The Ministry of Social Security
The Ministry of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
The Ministry of Housing
The National Empowerment Foundation
The Central Informatics Systems Division
The State Informatics Limited
The National Computer Board
Government Online Centre
Other collaborators/indirect users:
European Union (for which the use of SRM for all new social protection programmes is a key conditional indicator under the General Budget Support programme with the EU).
Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms
What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?
The SRM has produced baseline data for several SDG targets and hence constitute an instrumental tool for the development of pro-poor policies and measurement of their impact over time. The detailed socio-economic profiling of each poor household as well as the individual members within the household will enable the formulation of transformational policies with respect to the following proposals in the Marshall Plan against Poverty, and contributing towards the achievement of the Global Goals (mentioned in brackets):
Establish a Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme to alleviate poverty and promote empowerment (SDG 1 – End Poverty; SDG 5 – Achieve Gender Equality and empowerment; SDG 8 – Promote inclusive growth and employment)
Integrate other existing empowerment programmes into the SRM (SDG 8 – particularly targets 8.5 and 8.6 which pays particular attention to women, youth and people with disabilities)
Set up a mobile technology platform to reduce costs, modernize and improve outreach and access to information on social programmes (SDG 1 – particularly Target 1.3 on achieving coverage; Goal 5 – particularly Target 5.b on the use of enabling technology to promote women empowerment)
Establish Community-based Service Delivery for Social Inclusion (SDG 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable).
Introduce a “School Completion Premium” to be paid to children from poor background as an incentive to complete secondary-level education (SDG 4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education).
Design an Official Poverty Line for Mauritius (SDG 1, particularly Target 1.2 on the design of poverty measures according to national definitions.)
Build in-house analytical and technical capacity at the Ministry of Social Security to link the SRM/PMT data to broader social policy formulations and clarifying working relationships with other users of the SRM data. (SDG 17 – particularly the targets on Technology, Capacity-building, and Data monitoring and accountability).
Constitute a Poverty Map for Mauritius based on the SRM data (SDG 17)
Review the legal framework for fully integrating the SRM within the national Social Protection regulations (Goal 1 – Target 1.b )
Establish a Monitoring and Evaluation framework for the SRM
Conduct an impact evaluation for the SRM
Document the SRM project with a view that the lessons learned/good practice can be replicated/scaled up in other countries/situations.