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.
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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.
Planned Goals and Milestones
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.
|Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted||30,000|