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Blog Post

Introducing the ELAN Data Starter Kit

14 June 2016

Electronic cash transfers (e-transfers) often necessitate the transfer of personal data, some of which is sensitive, between humanitarian and private sector actors, such as financial service providers (FSPs). As use of e-transfers increases, having strong data management and protection practices in place is critical to ensure that our programs do not expose participants to unnecessary or unforeseen risks. While many industries are governed by clear data protection standards, this is not yet the case for the humanitarian sector. Very few humanitarian organizations have a comprehensive set of policies, practices, and tools to responsibly manage and protect the data they hold. Yet, we have a responsibility to utilize, share, store, and dispose of data securely.

The Electronic Cash Transfer Learning and Action Network (ELAN) launched a new Data Starter Kit designed to help humanitarians plan and improve data management practices. Building upon the CALP Network’s Protecting Beneficiary Privacy, the Starter Kit comprises seven tip sheets (three to six pages each) and a glossary that align with the project and data management lifecycles, and provide concrete tips to help humanitarians assess data risks, minimize data collected, and protect and securely share data. While the ELAN developed this Starter Kit for field staff implementing e-transfer programs, many of the concepts are not cash or e-transfer specific and may be useful to other types of programs.

The Data Starter Kit includes tip sheets that offer practical guidance and additional resources for those who want to dig deeper. They are organized into three sections — 1) a definition of the topic, 2) what humanitarians should know, and 3) what humanitarians should do — on the following key data protection topics:

  • Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA): Assess the risks associated with your program data plans and design strategies to mitigate them.
  • Data Minimization: Sometimes less really is more. Learn why and how to be intentional in your approach to data collection, use and storage.
  • Know Your Customer (KYC) Regulations: What are national KYC regulations, and why should you care? Learn how to comply with KYC regulations and when you might want to advocate for KYC changes.
  • Registration: Are you registering program participants, or are you working off a partner-generated list? Different data privacy considerations apply to each. Make this essential step of program implementation as smooth as possible.
  • Encryption: Is your data secure at rest and in transit? Start by learning what these terms mean and then see simple tips to protect sensitive data and find links to products to assist you.
  • Data Sharing: E-transfer programs depend upon partnerships, and program partners need information. We teach you how to responsibly share data within and outside your organization.
  • Data Retention, Archiving and DisposalSo you are closing out your program. Congratulations! Now what happens to all the data you collected? Plan early for secure data retention, archiving and disposal.

Since the Data Starter Kit is a new resource, we would like to hear how you are using it. We are also interested in testing it more systematically in the field; if this interests you, please let us know. We welcome any comments on the content of the Tip Sheets. With any comments or questions, please contact Lily Frey.

The Electronic Cash Transfer Learning Action Network (ELAN) aims to improve how electronic cash and electronic vouchers are used to assist survivors of natural disasters and conflict. It brings humanitarian organizations and the private sector together in partnership to improve e-transfer programs. The ELAN offers information, technical support and resources to guide private sector and humanitarian staff working directly with disaster affected people and communities. The ELAN is convened by Mercy Corps and supported by the MasterCard Center for Inclusive GrowthSign up to receive updates from the ELAN.