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Cash and Ebola 

In 2014 and 2015, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone confronted the worst Ebola outbreak in history, with 28,616 cases reported, including 11,310 deaths. Border closures and quarantines put in place to halt the spread of the disease severely restricted the movement of goods and people, negatively affecting agricultural production, trade, and market functionality and access. In May 2016, the World Bank estimated that the overall impact of the crisis was $1.9 billion for Sierra Leone and $300 million for Liberia.

Whole communities were affected, as lack of access to livelihoods and markets, along with inflation and combined with pre-existing food shortages created a food security crisis. Households resorted to negative coping mechanisms such as increasing debt and/or skipping meals. In response to this secondary crisis, humanitarian actors involved in the response considered Cash Transfer Programming (CTP) as a vital tool to support household-level recovery while simultaneously strengthening market systems, and thus potentially positively impacting several layers of the economy.

Partnership 

USAID/Food for Peace (FFP) played a leading role, funding most CTP projects in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Before the outbreak, in 2012–14, USAID/FFP supported annual programs averaging $20.9 million in Liberia and $11.6 million in Sierra Leone. In response to the food insecurity and malnutrition associated with Ebola, USAID/FFP increased its support, and $105 million were allocated to fifteen emergency projects in Liberia and Sierra Leone and nine of those included a cash transfer component.

In that context, CaLP and FFP are working together on a dedicated project to document, analyze and draw learnings and recommendations to optimize the use of CTP in future similar crises.

 

To document this unique response, two research pieces were produced by CaLP in 2016-17:

A Documentation ReportCash Transfers for food security in epidemics: a review of USAID Food For Peace response to the Ebola crisis in Liberia and Sierra Leone”. Which provides a review of the projects implemented, and capitalizes on their lessons learned. 

And a Case Study: Harnessing digital technology for cash transfer programming in the Ebola response” focusing on how digital technology was used during the crisis to optimize the delivery of cash.

As FFP projects and response ended, CaLP is now working on its last research a CTP Outcomes Analysis with the purpose of assessing the effectiveness and appropriateness of CTP in assisting Ebola affected populations to recover from the food security impacts of the epidemic in Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

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