District Councils' ICT Officers Incapacitated to Update UBR

Government has admitted that inadequate capacity by district council Information and Communication Technology (ICT) officers to manage vibrant ICT ecosystem is affecting the effective implementation of the Unified Beneficiary Registry (UBR) rolled out five years ago to minimize duplication of social protection interventions.

Ministry of gender spokesperson Fred Simwaka has indicated that most of the ICT teams in 21 districts where the database has now been launched, are not highly informed on how to update the system according to the current socio-economic status of the people.

"As the ministry, we have really achieved our intended purpose. As of now we have rolled out the UBR in all districts except for seven.

"But maybe the challenge that we have, as of now we are looking at the issues of capacity. You know UBR management requires a vibrant ICT ecosystem and highly informed ICT team. So that is the only challenge because all those who are tapping into the system and making use of it, need to have people in place who can manage the system," he said.

UBR is a tool which was developed to register and keep the social profile of all the people in the country for easy targeting during implementation of development interventions.

Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS) ICT lecturer Joseph Masiye, suggests the availability of resources, trainings and involvement of district council ICT teams when installing the system to own it.

"Those that are doing the installation of those things, are supposed to be attended by somebody who is qualified enough, because that particular person is conversant with whatever is required at a particular system.

"We must have the required resources, trained personnel who can actually catch up with whatever these providers are doing," Masiye said.

Apart from reducing program implementation costs at district level, the social economic database can assist the councils and stakeholders to spend less when identifying the needs of the citizenry in the communities because all the needed information on poverty levels, is available in the system.

According to Simwaka, UBR database is yet to be installed in Zomba, Phalombe, Mulanje, Machinga, Mzimba, Neno and Mwanza.

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