GN Bureau | March 19, 2015
Attracted by the promise of new technology, countries (over 150 of whom maintain civil registration systems) and development partners alike have invested heavily in identification systems, in terms of both development dollars and strategy, reveals a report by the World Bank. Much of the current discourse on identification- and registry- related issues is framed from a state-centered perspective; that is, improving the functioning of government agencies and enhancing the collection of data for planning and policy. The report suggests that this should be complemented with a stronger focus on the impacts of identification systems on the poorest and most marginalised. In many circumstances, identification systems may not serve the development needs of this constituency; worse yet, in others, they may give effect to patterns of exclusion and discrimination. In light of these considerations, there is a need in developing global and country-specific identification strategies to more clearly and critically articulate the implied benefits, costs and risks of alternative approaches. The report can be seen as a warning of sorts to the Aadhaar scheme of India.
Whilst identification systems can be an important contributor to development, they can also increase exclusion for certain populations, especially those already most vulnerable and marginalised.
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