Type of Investment


Project Stage


Length of Investment

2023 - 2024

Investment Overview

Y-RISE’s innovation is the use of phone-based targeting (PBT) for social protection. This has the potential to be highly cost-effective and speedy compared to existing targeting approaches, and is of particular relevance to shock-responsive, anticipatory action or disaster response programmes for climate resilience.


The Development Challenge

Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to climate change-related hazards, such as floods and cyclones, which disproportionately impact the poor. Their effects are long-lasting, multigenerational and cause costly coping strategies such as divesting productive assets and curtailing investments in human capital. Despite this, social protection programmes in Bangladesh grapple with targeting errors linked to outdated household data, paper-based management systems and local political influences. Accurate, fast and low-cost targeting of social protection and climate disaster support is crucial to ensure the right people get the right benefits at the right time. However, the evidence base for new solutions for poverty targeting in disaster response contexts and its comparison with existing approaches is still nascent.


The Innovation

The innovation is the use of phone-based targeting (PBT) for social protection and aid programmes. PBT entails building of a machine learning model that uses detailed call data records (CDR) of mobile phone users along with a large-scale survey that collects socio-economic data of a subset of households to predict target populations (e.g. the poorest, most vulnerable) in a climate vulnerable region. CDR may include inputs such as the number of calls and texts sent and received during different days and times of the week, call durations, top-up amounts, mobile data usage, and the number of different tower locations used by a user. The model will be deployed on a wider scale to identify the poorest 20,000 households to receive cash transfers via mobile money.


Our Investment

GIF provided a pilot grant of $230,000 in 2023 to support Y-RISE to conduct the first-ever rigorous research on the targeting accuracy of PBT against community-based targeting (CBT), compare this to a simulated proxy means testing (PMT) targeting approach, and model targeting accuracy of a combination of these approaches. A key component to lay groundwork for potential use of PBT for shock response will be an exploratory climate vulnerability analysis. Finally, Y-RISE will also provide qualitative insights on the acceptability of PBT by communities and influence and build the capacity of policy makers in Bangladesh and beyond for uptake of PBT.


Progress to date

This innovation is supported by the only two evaluations that study poverty targeting with mobile phone data conducted by the research team in Togo and Afghanistan. The main result of these papers is that phone-based targeting can be less accurate than traditional survey-based approaches to poverty targeting but more accurate than using blanket geographic targeting (using satellite imagery or survey data). Findings from rigorous research on the targeting accuracy of a combination of targeting approaches, including community-based targeting and proxy means testing, against PBT is expected in 2024.


Y-Rise in numbers


Estimated loss of total agricultural GDP by 2050 as a result of climate change

13 Million

internal climate migrants by 2050


households to receive cash transfers via mobile money.