In Viet Nam, electronic payment becomes a life-changing technology for social protection during the COVID-19 crisis
In a modest house in Nam Dinh province, rays of sunlight pierced through old roof tile holes, the dwelling sagging and languid.
This is the house of Mrs. Vu Thi Man with her husband and two daughters. Mrs. Man, 56 years old, is the breadwinner in her family. No one else in her family can make money, even by growing vegetables or raising chickens at home. Her husband, Mr. Du, 60 years old, has been paralyzed for nearly 20 years due to an accident falling from a scaffolding while bricklaying. Her two children were born well and beautiful, but when they reached 3 years old, they had a cerebral palsy fever. The youngest daughter is 21 years old with 18 years of cerebral palsy movement.
Mrs. Man must manage the family’s life by herself, with 2 hectares of paddy fields and monthly disability living allowance of VND 1,830,000 (or US $78) from the Government for her husband and two children. She occasionally works as a tenant for others, but it is becoming more and more difficult for her to find a job as people are being replaced by machines. Many people in her village left for big cities to make more income to support their family, but Mrs. Man cannot work far away from her three loved ones who need her care.
For Mrs. Man, the day she receives monthly cash transfer is the happiest day. On the 9th of every month, she rides her bicycle to the commune center (around 4 km away from home) as early as 6 a.m. to queue up and wait to receive the cash transfer. Rarely did she arrive home before 10 a.m. due to the big crowd at the center coming early for their cash transfer. Just like her.
COVID-19 made Mrs. Man’s situation even worse. Her family fell into exhaustion because there were no jobs during strict social-distancing, and she could not earn any money. When she heard about the Government’s COVID-19 social protection package, she was very happy. One day, a commune official came to check her ID card and filled out some papers. She was told that she could receive the cash from any e-pay device, instead of having to travel to the commune center.
A week later, the local official returned with two people from mobile payment service ViettelPay and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), who showed her how to download an e-payment application to her phone. After some initial configurations, she received a confirmation message and VND 4,500,000 (or US $193), the exact amount her family is entitled as part of a COVID-19 social protection package from the Government for three months.
Mrs. Man also received a cash card as well as a discounted call rates from her mobile service provider. She received her cash transfer safely and quickly, without any additional cost. She also does not have to travel far and wait on long lines at the community centre. Overall, she has more time to take care of her family and is less at risk of catching or spreading the Coronavirus. Mrs. Man feels much happier and safer now.
Mrs. Man, her husband and children are among the 20 million people who are eligible to benefit from the Government’s social protection support to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As many localities are facing difficulties in the management and deliveries of social protection services, especially during the social distancing period, UNDP Viet Nam supported local authorities and partners to accelerate the deployment of a robust e-payment and e-reporting system
As part of the Joint SDG Fund’s initiative to accelerate Viet Nam’s transition toward inclusive and integrated social protection, this initiative lays the foundation for digitalising social assistance services and building an integrated social protection database for the longer term. Mrs. Man is hoping the programme will be expanded to protect the lives and livelihoods of others like her and recover better together.
Written by Huu Doan Minh. Produced by the UN Viet Nam. To view the originally published article and learn more about the work that the UN team is doing in Viet Nam visit their website at https://vietnam.un.org/en