The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today completed its Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program. Launched in October 2020, it has helped 85,954 vulnerable Liberians cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through direct cash payments.
The UCT program has helped micro-entrepreneurs, market traders, smallholder farmers, the rural poor and others disproportionately affected by the economic fallout from COVID-19.
Each program participant received three monthly payments of approximately US $ 45, for a total of Liberian $ 2 billion (approximately US $ 11.7 million). This included 46,844 women, or 54.5% of all UCT beneficiaries. More than 17,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 29 have also received payments. They represent almost 20 percent of all UCT beneficiaries.
Surveys show that more than half of UCT beneficiaries said they used their money to invest in existing businesses. Another quarter of beneficiaries said they spent their money on the education of their children and other family members, while the last quarter used the money received to buy food and other basic necessities. need.
In addition to building the resilience of Liberians at risk, the UCT program has also complemented existing USAID social protection activities by providing names and contact details to the Government of Liberia’s National Identification Registry. UCT’s exclusive use of mobile money to make payments further boosted user confidence in Liberia’s still new but growing mobile money transfer system, helping to address liquidity issues in Liberia. currencies of the country.
USAID Mission Director Jim Wright said the UCT program was deliberately designed to put money directly into the hands of the most vulnerable Liberians because “they can best determine how to use resources. made available to them to meet their own needs and priorities â. He thanked King Philanthropies and other donors, who helped fund the program. He also thanked GiveDirectly, a leading global non-governmental organization (NGO) specializing in providing digital cash transfers, for successfully implementing the program on behalf of USAID.
GiveDirectly used the 2016 Liberia Household Income and Expenditure Surveys to help determine UCT beneficiaries. In particular, GiveDirectly focused on the districts identified by surveys as having the highest percentage of households living in absolute poverty in the six counties where USAID does most of its development work in Liberia: Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Margibi, Montserrado and Nimba. . GiveDirectly has also determined which vulnerable Liberians are eligible for UCT payments by partnering with NGOs engaged in poverty reduction work to identify those most affected by the economic impact of COVID-19.
The UCT program was closely coordinated with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to ensure that the processes developed by the program and the lessons learned of the program be made available to the government of Liberia for use in its continued efforts to develop a broader social protection system and database to identify potential beneficiaries.
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