A more inclusive social payments system

Social Protection
Timor-Leste

Supporting nutrition, education and development of Timor-Leste’s youngest citizens through the provision of regular cash payments.

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Purpose

Coordinate the distribution of social payments with transparency and efficiency - for both the government and recipients

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Approach

Digital transformation of the social payment system in close partnership with government, including capacity building and a sophisticated management platform enabling real-time monitoring of payments

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Partners

Timor-Leste Ministry of Social Solidarity and Inclusion (MSSI), supported by the governments of Australia and Timor-Leste through the Partnership for Human Development

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Highlights

7 municipalities accepting applications so far

>40,000 registrations for monthly support payments

>190 children living with disability receiving an additional monthly financial support payment - the first of its kind in Timor Leste

Jerasaun Foun is an initiative of the Timor-Leste Government designed to help children to have the best possible start to life.

The new social protection program aims to improve national nutrition, health, education and poverty outcomes through the delivery of a monthly cash payment to pregnant women and parents of children 0- 6 years old.

In a first for Timor-Leste, the program offers an additional allowance to families of children with disabilities to support their specialised needs.

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Pregnant women and families with children 0-3 are eligible to register for the cash payment. Payments are made monthly and continue until children reach 6 years of age.

Registrations for the program began in June 2022 in the three municipalities with the highest combined rates of poverty and childhood malnutrition; Ainaro, Bobonaro and Oecusse.

Since then it has extended to an additional four municipalities - Covalima, Liquica, Manatuto and Viqueque - and will continue to be expanded in a staged approach, eventually becoming a nationally available initiative by late 2025.

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The payment management system was developed using an iterative Agile process, and integrates a range of interdependent functions.

Catalpa developed the digital platform supporting Jerasaun Foun off the back of a successful COVID-related cash payments program. Both programs were designed in close partnership with the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Inclusion, marking the beginning of a transition from the pre-existing manual paper system.

The new fit-for-purpose system is demonstrating how thoughtful technology design and implementation can transform enrolment processes even in rural and remote areas, enabling communities to receive fast and efficient government assistance.

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Registration officers received training to use tablets to capture the enrolment information.

Registration officers were recruited to register women and families using tablet devices at health posts across the three municipalities. They received hands-on training, ensuring they could effectively capture the required eligibility and enrollment information so payments could be approved.

The platform captures registration data in real-time when connected to the internet, but has also been designed for effective use in the many areas of Timor-Leste with unreliable connectivity. In these remote locations, the platform allows offline data input which is automatically queued to sync when a connection is reestablished.

Collected data is then automatically sent to a secure central location where it undergoes automated quality assurance processes, such as an incomplete, invalid or fraudulent application. MSSI then reviews the data for approval before progressing to payment.

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