Mercy Corps

14. Digital Aid: Biometric Identity Management and Electronic Cash Transfer

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Presenters: Mr. Doug Greene, CIO, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); Mr. Jakob Kern, CIO & ETC Chair, UN WFP; Ms. Alexa Swift, Regional Economic Opportunities Advisor for the Middle East, Mercy Corps; Mr. Jeremy Cole, Director, Red Rose

Thursday, 30 April 2015, 09:40-10:40, 11:20-11:5013_Panel_IMG_3435

The increasing use of cash transfer programming in humanitarian assistance has spawned the use of new technologies to capture beneficiary identities and to deliver entitlements via digital means. The session presented what two United Nations entities – the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) – are doing in this area, as well as recent learning in electronic cash transfers for humanitarian assistance presented by Mercy Corps, summarizing how the Electronic Cash Transfer Learning Action Network (elan) plans to support field teams, and the experience of Red Rose, an SME specialized in developing electronic cash transfer products for the humanitarian sector. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion.


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Mr. Doug Greene, CIO, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)13_Digital Aid Biometric Identity Management and Cash_photo_Doug Greene

Mr. Doug Greene was appointed Director and Chief Information Officer of UNHCR as of 6 January 2014. Mr. Greene brings nearly 30 years of professional experience in the not-for-profit, public and private sectors, including 20 years in Information Technology (IT) leading and managing large-scale, global Information Technology operations.  In addition, Greene has over 15 years of international experience, working for the United States Peace Corps, Catholic Relief Services, and the American Red Cross.

Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Greene was Vice President of Enterprise Technology at the American Red Cross, where he oversaw the organization’s technical planning, enterprise architecture, strategic sourcing, contract management and infrastructure operations from 2009-2013.  Prior to the Red Cross, Mr. Greene was the Director of Business Systems and Deputy Chief Information Officer for Northrop Grumman’s Information Technology Sector from 2001–2009. From 1996-2001, Mr. Greene served at the Peace Corps as the Associate Director for Management and Chief Information Officer in Washington, D.C., Country Director in Vanuatu, and as an agriculture volunteer in the Marshall Islands in the early 1980s. Mr. Greene held several positions with Catholic Relief Services between 1988-1996, including Deputy Director of the Office of Program Resources Management, Country Representative in Cameroon and Haiti, Project Manager in the Office of Information Systems in Baltimore, and Regional Computer Coordinator for Southeast Asia.

Mr. Greene earned his bachelor’s degree in History with honors from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and holds a master’s degree in International Development Management from American University’s School of International Service in Washington, D.C.  In addition, he received his Chief Information Officer Certificate from the Information Resources Management College at the National Defense University, Washington, DC, a Certificate in Management from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia, and graduated from the Leadership Development Program at Babson College & Harvard Business School.

Mr. Jakob Kern, CIO & ETC Chair, UN WFP

13_Digital Aid Biometric Identity Management and Cash_photo_Jakob KernJakob Kern is the Chief Information Officer and Director of Information Technologies at the United Nations World Food Programme. He is responsible for the overall IT strategy, operations, processes and more than 425 IT staff of the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger globally. He has further responsibility for supporting the organisation’s Change Process within the development of the strategic framework and priorities of the Division, and is advising the Executive Director on all IT related matters.

Jakob is currently the Chair of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster of the United Nations (ETC) and the Management Committee of the United Nations International Computing Center (ICC), the common data centre of 30 UN Agencies based in Geneva.

Jakob joined WFP in 1998 in Monrovia, Liberia as Head of one of the largest Special Operation projects consisting of 200 km of emergency road repairs in a post war environment to facilitate food distribution to refugees. He then moved on as Emergency Coordinator and Programme Advisor in Asmara, Eritrea where he was responsible for two large-scale emergency operations. He was WFP Deputy Country Director in North Korea and prior to becoming CIO in February 2012, was the Deputy Chief Information Officer at WFP since 2006, where he managed all seven branches of the Division and provided leadership to the development of global IT innovative strategies and programmes to enhance efficiency through IT applications.

Before joining the World Food Programme, Jakob worked as a consultant and project manager for several companies, where he was responsible for global engineering projects throughout Africa and Asia. Jakob received a Masters in Civil Engineering from ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He is married and has two young boys.

Ms. Alexa Swift, Regional Economic Opportunities Advisor for the Middle East, 13_Digital Aid Biometric Identity Management and Cash_photo_Alexa Swift
Mercy Corps

Alexa is the Middle East Regional Economic Opportunities Advisor for the Syria Response with Mercy Corps.

She has worked in the region since 2013 supporting program teams both in Syria and the refugee receiving countries to increase their use of market based approaches, particularly cash transfer programming. Prior to that she worked in East Africa on cash and early recovery programming.

Mr. Jeremy Cole, Director, Red Rose

13_Digital Aid Biometric Identity Management and Cash_photo_j coleJerry has a wealth of experience of working both in the private and humanitarian sector over the past 20 years . A qualified accountant, who after a successful career in business, left the private sector to pursue a life long ambition of working within the humanitarian sector. Jerry worked with humanitarian agency GOAL for over 10 years where he held positions as Head of Risk, Audit and Compliance and Chief Operations Officer. During his time at GOA,L Jerry identified that the humanitarian sector needed better ways of delivering cash transfers and in 2013 he Co-founded RedRose, a company that specialises in developing electronic cash transfer systems for the humanitarian sector.  Originally from London, Jerry has a Masters in both International Banking and Social policy and a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Accountancy.

Links to related material:

UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency
Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC)
World Food Programme Scope project
Mercy Corps
Red Rose
Electronic Cash Transfer Learning Action Network (elan)
The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP)