On November 2020 the Netherlands Red Cross together with the 121 development team began the first of 3 pilot programs inviting 284 people (and counting) to self register for cash based aid. The first Pilot is focusing on the undocumented migrants known to be on waiting lists for housing in Amsterdam, the second for people in the same situation in Utrecht. The third pilot currently running is for Filipino migrants who have lost their work due to the negative affect of the  COVID-10 pandemic.

Invitations to register were sent out via a WhatsApp message that included the link to the self registration app which they could open and use on their own smart phones. The Self Registration app is a simple chat style form that guides you through the registration process explaining what you are applying for, what you will receive and if you are included how you will receive it.

The process is supported via a WhatsApp helpdesk with a face to face support option in various shelters and locations around the city. Once the registration form is complete, the phone number that has been given to register instantly received an SMS and or a WhatsApp to confirm the registration  has been completed and what the next steps in the process are.

Those with questions or issues with the registration or the inclusion process can WhatsApp with the Red Cross help desk.

“Hello, I have to register and I have gotten a link is it safe to use? ”  Person registering remotely through 121 Self Registration app 

In parallel the Cash Program manager monitors the registrations for the 3 programs in the Organisation portal. The program manager is the only one that has access to the protected personal information of the people registering and can align on who is eligible for inclusion based on clear criteria set out with stakeholders.

After review by the cash program manager people are either included in the program and receive an automated message explaining that they will receive a digtial supermarket voucher and how to use it. The people who have not been included will also receive a message this time with a tailored explanation as to why and with helpful information as to other aid available to them in the area.

“It is really rare to be in such direct and personal contact with PAs. I never had expected how personal human digital communication could become. Normally, PAs give you feedback when you ask for it, as part of MEAL. Now they reach out spontaneously, the recurrent ones even calling us by name, and share information unsolicited.”  Cash Program Manager Netherlands Red Cross

All these interactions are been documented in real time on the Orginisation portal (with limited designated access to protect personal information). The cash program manager has also access the the helpdesk to monitor questions about registrations, can monitor to stay close to their needs and questions and messages of thanks too.

“Thank you so much for the vouchers is help alot , before that my life was very difficult I real appreciate ?” Person included in the program via WhatsApp 

On going improvement’s too! For example the initial app came in a few preidentified languages, as more WhatsApp messages came through new languages were identified as needed to ease the registration process for new applicants and were subsequently added)

So how was this achieved and what were the learnings before during and after the Pilot took place?

In February 2019 the 121 HCD team together with an outreach worker for undocumented migrants from the Netherlands Red Cross traveled to Almere, Utrecht and Amsterdam to co-design solutions for the problems they were currently facing. These insights together with in field technical research were combined to create the products used in the 121 Pilot Programs currently still running for undocumented migrants and now also migrant workers in the Netherlands.


Pilot timeline
NOV 2020 - Present
Main Applicant
121 Products Used
Press Release

Below you can see the basic flow of the journey of the person registering for the Pilot in Amsterdam.