1.1 billion people globally lack official identity, as estimated by the World Bank. Identity unlocks formal services as diverse as voting, owning a financial account, registering a business or other assets, enrolling in school, and having complete health records. Having a formal, sustainable identity is a key step in helping people to share in the gains of economic and social development.

Identification is complex, and requires cooperation between a wide variety of stakeholders. While national governments are most likely to drive the establishment of formal ID services, development practitioners, including donors, program managers, and M&E specialists, should be aware of how their project or activity fits into the overall ID ecosystem in their country or context. When a development project decides to create their own ID, it can help achieve project objectives -- but it can also contribute to a fragmented, siloed ID ecosystem, creating problems you can read about in the introduction.

This guide aims to: 1) illustrate how investments in ID systems can both positively and negatively impact individuals and their households, through the illustrative stories of Mary, Joy, and Samuel; and 2) provide specific howto guidance to help donors, program managers, and M&E specialists get started in thinking about ID ecosystems. This guide is specifically targeted towards USAID staff and implementing partners who are providing direct support on ID systems, providing advisory services to government ministries, or are trying to find ways to identify beneficiaries in a project or activity (regardless of the sector).

This guide is intended to be modular. In other words, you don’t have to read from beginning to end. Click around to find the sections and tools most relevant to you. Start with the introduction, and go from there. Read, discuss with your colleagues, and think about how you can put some of these ideas into action in your own project or activity.ive&ssui=on