South Africa has been one of the countries worst affected worldwide by the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic. The virus has endangered not only the health of the country’s 57 million inhabitants, but has also jeopardized the livelihoods of many, particularly those living on or below the poverty line.
Like most countries, South Africa enacted a series of national lockdowns to limit the spread of the virus. But as businesses often hire their employees on a ‘no work, no pay’ basis, this resulted in many being unable to earn any salaries. As a consequence, millions were left at risk, not knowing where their next meal will come from.
To address this growing crisis, a solution was urgently needed that would combine grassroots mobilization and technological innovation to deliver food and supplies to those in urgent need.
The task of developing a tool which could organise the distribution of food aid fell to Inspired Change Solutions. Working with their technological partners at Anyline, and with the mobilization support of the Mahlasedi Foundation, a system was developed to ensure the efficient delivery of supplies to people living in the densly populated townships.
The project was piloted in the townships of Olievenhoutbosch, Centurion and Cosmo City, north-west of Johannesburg, each of which are home to over 70,000 residents. It would be an extremely daunting task to coordinate food deliveries to all households in the affected areas, while ensuring that everyone received their fair share and that no families were left out.
To achieve this, geotagged QR codes were issued to each household, and the ID information of each code recipient was recorded. Later, a delivery team would arrive with a wheelbarrow containing 75kg of nutritionally balanced food - enough to feed the average household for a month. At this point, the ID would be checked again to ensure the right person was receiving the aid, and the QR code would again be scanned.
By combining the QR code and ID verification, it was possible to ensure that people received the supplies they expected, and taht food could not be misappropriated. But in spite of the early success, the process of checking each ID document was tedious and time-consuming. Each submission needed 8 different fields of information, including the individual’s full name, date of birth, address, ID number and more, leading to significant delays.
To address this issue, Inspired Change Solutions partnered with Anyline. They found that by integrating Anyline’s wide variety of data capture solutions into their browser-based management system, it would be possible to verify aid recipients’ IDs in a fraction of the time. Instead of having to write or type out all the identifying information, it was possible to simply scan the ID with a standard smartphone.
As the coronavirus began to spread around the world Anyline announced that it would offer its technology for free to emergency, security and logistics services for projects which could mitigate the effects of the virus. When approached by Inspired Change Solutions, this offer was immediately extended for the project, and Anyline's team worked to ensure the management system could read all the different IDs which residents would have, so their data could be quickly and securely digitized, and their identities could be verified.
Using this enhanced solution, Inspired Change Solutions and Anyline have been able to significantly optimize the process of registering recipients, verifying their identities, and delivering them the food aid needed during the crisis. The time needed for food deliveries has been drastically reduced, while also improving the quality of data collected by removing human error from the data collection process.
What’s more, given the risk of virus transmission during deliveries, the ability to scan IDs with a phone also makes it possible for the distribution teams to complete their work, while maintaining social distancing.
Following the successful programmes in Olievenhoutbosch, and Cosmo City the solution is being rolled out to more townships throughout South Africa.
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