Photo: UNDP

UNDP report highlights the potential of digital payment system to enhance aid delivery in Afghanistan

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) stated in a report on Tuesday that a digital payment system could make aid cheaper, faster, and more transparent, and it would especially help reach more women and marginalized groups in Afghanistan.

The report said that following the Taliban’s assumption of power in Afghanistan, the country’s economic output declined by 20.7%, poverty rates rose to nearly 95%, and half of the population became food insecure.

“The same period also saw the collapse of the Afghanistan Payments System for digital transactions, hindering the delivery and monitoring of aid money and supplies,” the report said.

“It’s never been more important to get emergency cash transfers to the people who need them when they need them the most, while ensuring that resources are not diverted along the way,” said Stephen Rodriques, UNDP Afghanistan Resident Representative. “This requires a digital payment system that can move money around the country at the touch of a button in a way that can be tracked and monitored.”

The UNDP report said that a survey of more than 17,000 households in Afghanistan in 2022 found that two-thirds of respondents preferred to receive cash assistance.

The UNDP began testing a digital payment system in March 2022, distributing over $1 million to more than 15,000 households across nine provinces in Afghanistan. The organization cut transfer costs by 30% and reduced the time from 7 days to 48 hours.

The report said that the digital payment system could help to improve the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of aid delivery in Afghanistan. It could also help to reach more women and marginalized groups, who are often excluded from traditional aid programs.