Inclusive Cash Transfers in Uganda During a Pandemic

Amadeusz Marzec is an EU Aid Volunteer in Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency in Uganda. On behalf of ICCO Cooperation, he assists the Church of Uganda with the development of their Disaster Risk Management (DRM) capacities.

Inclusive Cash Transfers in Uganda During a Pandemic

Successful vulnerability assessment in time of emergency has a major impact on the overall project efficiency. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, targeting the most vulnerable communities is more difficult than ever. In this blog post, I will discuss inclusiveness in cash-based interventions based on my experience in implementing pandemic response programming with the Church of Uganda.

For this exercise, we focused on increasing food security of the most vulnerable communities. Taking into account the current pandemic and past experiences with food and cash distributions, we believed that mobile cash transfers would provide orderly, fair and, above all, safe means of assistance.

The introduction of mobile money and digital cash transfers has inherently improved the ability to deliver cash assistance to beneficiaries. In our case, the goal was to reach the most vulnerable people in 17 dioceses across Uganda. We managed to provide mobile cash assistance to more than 1000 households. While taking the restrictions and constraints during the pandemic into account, community-based vulnerability analysis provided the best opportunity for appropriate targeting.

According to our framework, we would provide the diocesan officials with questionnaires in order to determine the most vulnerable people. Later we would verify the outcome during the beneficiary registration. This was the best way to reconcile the COVID-19 risks with our ability to reach people most in need.

To make sure there were no embezzlements, we were present during the registrations. The nature of the exercise meant that a lot of people were interested, creating a potential COVID risk. However, even in the most remote locations people were aware of the need for social distancing and wore masks.

Another important aspect to consider was the lack of accessible technology, such as mobile phones, needed for accessing the mobile money. People had phones in the majority of visited locations. However, in regions where people are the most vulnerable, such as Karamoja or Sebei, access to mobile money was limited. In such places, we had to use traditional cash transfers, which potentially could put beneficiaries at risk (protection, stigmatization etc.).

During the exercise, it became evident that in some places people with disabilities faced stigmatization and exclusion from their communities. In such circumstances, the ability to reach these people is of paramount importance. Community-based vulnerability assessment may be the only tool to reach them.

Our post-distribution monitoring revealed that in most situations we managed to accurately target the beneficiaries through our community-based approach. It seems that utilization of local resources during needs assessment can greatly improve the process of targeting. It also allowed us to limit the necessary interactions with the beneficiaries and ensure their protection.


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