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National ID Programs: A Multi-Country Review and Analysis of Policy and Practical Challenges

Anderson, C. Leigh; Biscaye, Pierre E.; Reynolds, Travis W.

National identity programs are increasingly being introduced into low and middle income countries, and may be used by governments for surveillance, supporting fair and democratic elections, fostering national unity, and facilitating health, financial and agricultural transactions. We review evidence on 42 national ID programs in low- and middle-income countries, with particular attention to evidence of the implementation challenges the programs have faced. We identify seven general categories of implementation challenges, with evidence that 39 of 42 countries have faced at least one category of challenge while 8 countries have faced challenges in three or more areas. Further, we observe some associations between country and national ID program characteristics and evidence of particular implementation challenges. Better understanding of the challenges that countries have faced in implementing national ID programs may support the development of more sustainable and usable ID programs. 

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