As the COVID-19 pandemic started to exact a toll on lives and livelihoods in early 2020, countries imposed strict lockdowns to stem the spread of infections, disrupting economies and societies across the world. With pandemic-induced constraints on in-person interactions, many countries adopted a “digital first” approach to delivering social assistance, primarily cash transfers. How did these digital systems perform? What worked and what did not? And, as the world still grapples with COVID disruptions, including periodic lockdowns, how can governments better design and implement social assistance in an increasingly digital environment?

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