Biometrics handed role in US$300 m Bangladesh nutrition plan
10 February 2015 10:29 GMT

Biometric verification will be used to authenticate some 600,000 vulnerable mothers.

The World Bank has given Bangladesh a US$300 million loan to implement a biometrics-backed welfare programme across the country designed to improve child nutrition.

Biometric verification will be used to authenticate some 600,000 vulnerable mothers who have been identified as needing special government payments.

Bangladesh is among the world’s top 10 countries with the highest prevalence of malnutrition, and 41 percent of children below the age of five have stunted growth, according to the World Health Organization.

Monthly cash transfers will be electronically disbursed into mothers’ post office accounts using biometric cash cards issued by the Post Office.

“The project is a good example of involving local government bodies as well as using technological innovation to improve service delivery in Bangladesh, " said Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Senior Secretary, Economic Relations Division, government of Bangladesh. “The Project will break the cycle that binds poor children to poor nutrition and cognitive deficiencies”.

A Service Agreement between the WB and the Bangladesh Post Office (BPO) will lay out the modality of the quarterly electronic payments to beneficiaries, as well as the scope of equipment required for the implementation of this biometric-enabled payments system using PCCs.

A “third party agency” is to be contracted to conduct a public information campaign aimed at potential beneficiaries. That same agency will ensure the enrolment process is conducted using biometric verification cross-checked against national IDs, writes this World Bank document.

“A Know Your Customer (KYC) form will be filled out during enrolment to fulfil the BPO’s documentary requirements for postal cash card issue. Along with the identification details captured through the KYC form, biometric information (i.e. fingerprints) will also be collected”.

“Attendance at monthly … sessions will be verified using biometric-enabled POS machines and beneficiaries’ smart PCC. Beneficiaries will be required to swipe their cards and register their fingerprint at the beginning and at the end of the monthly interventions so as to enable the PMU to monitor compliance with program co-responsibilities at the household level.”

In an unrelated project, French firm Oberthur last month won a US$102 m contract for new Bangladesh “smart” ID card.