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How Technology is Improving the Distribution of Social Grants

In recent years, technology has significantly impacted every aspect of our lives, including the way grant programs work. Grant programs have been traditionally associated with a lot of manual work, which can be time-consuming and tedious. However, with the latest technological innovations, these processes have become simplified and streamlined, enabling grant-giving organisations to deliver their services more efficiently and effectively. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into how technology is now being implemented to provide and manage grants.


South Africa Social Relief of Distress Grant

South Africa, for example, has one of the world’s most expensive social grant systems: 47% of the population relies on a monthly grant. Of these, 18 million are permanent beneficiaries and about 10 million receive a temporary Social Relief of Distress Grant. This was introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic for working-age adults who do not receive formal social protection, such as unemployment insurance and for those engaged in informal work. The vast majority of the grants are child support grants (R500 or around $27 a month) paid to a child’s primary caregiver based on a means test.

One of the most significant benefits of technology in grant programs is the ability to streamline the application process. Grant-giving organisations can now receive applications online, verify documents electronically, and authorise approvals without the need for physical documentation. This means that more people can access the grants and save time in the process. For example, in South Africa individuals could look up their sassa status check online to see the latest updates on their application. Online applications mean that the system is less biassed and unfair as it takes away any possibilities of human interference.


Benefits of Social Grants

There is ample, global evidence that such cash transfers bring many positive outcomes. For instance, they reduce child hunger, improve school attendance and help reduce poverty. Although social grants are spent largely on food, there is growing evidence that they are also used for productive investments in livelihood activities. These are actions people undertake to meet their basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. Recipients find various ways to “grow” their grants by engaging in informal work and other income-generating activities.

Grant beneficiaries’ stories emerging from these studies show a strong desire to be productive – such as having a job, or starting their own business and finding ways to improve income and personal and family well-being. They also faced significant barriers in promoting livelihoods, reducing poverty and improving psychosocial well-being. These findings indicate the need to design multi-pronged poverty reduction strategies that combine grants with livelihood support services.

As mentioned earlier, many individuals find ways to “grow” their grant. Some of these methods were income-generating activities like buying and selling goods, providing services such as building, painting, photography, running restaurants or taverns, renting accommodation and traditional healing. Some engaged in community gardening, sewing, recycling and beadwork. Others invested


In Conclusion

Technology has revolutionised the grant-awarding process for some of the largest social grants in the World. From the streamlined application process to improved tracking and monitoring, technology has simplified the process and made it more efficient. With the growth of application programs, improved record-keeping and accessibility have been enhanced, and now the grant program is more standardised and transparent than ever before. Moving forward, further digital innovations are expected, and we can confidently say that technology will continue to provide a positive impact in the grant awarding process.