USAID’s direct cash transfer program is helping more than 85,000 vulnerable Liberians cope with the economic fallout from COVID-19

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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 assisted micro-entrepreneurs, market traders, smallholder farmers, the rural poor and others disproportionately affected by the economic fallout from COVID-19.

Each participant in the program received three monthly installments of approximately US$45, for a total of 2 billion Liberian dollars (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 also received payments.

They represent nearly 20% of all UCT beneficiaries. Surveys show that more than half of UCT recipients said they used their money to invest in existing businesses. Another quarter of recipients said they spent their money on the education of their children and other family members, while the last quarter used the money they received to buy food and other basic necessities.

In addition to building the resilience of at-risk Liberians, the UCT program also complemented existing USAID social protection activities by providing names and contact information to the Government of Liberia’s National Identification Registry.

The exclusive use of mobile money by the UCT program to make payments has further boosted the confidence of users of the still new but growing mobile money transfer system in Liberia, helping to solve liquidity problems in country currencies.

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 better determine how to use the resources put at their disposal to meet their own needs and priorities”.

He thanked King Philanthropies and other donors, who helped fund the program. He also thanked GiveDirectly, a leading global nongovernmental organization (NGO) specializing in the provision of digital cash transfers, for successfully implementing the program on behalf of USAID.

GiveDirectly used Liberia’s 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Surveys to help determine UCT recipients. In particular, GiveDirectly focused on districts that surveys identified 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 vulnerable Liberians 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 coordinated closely 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 from the program are available to the Government of Liberia for use in its ongoing efforts to develop a broader social protection system and database to identify potential beneficiaries.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/usaid-mission-director-inaugurates-new -conservation-hall/

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