We are Elrha, a force for change in the humanitarian community. The research and innovation we support equips the humanitarian community with the knowledge of what works, so people affected by crises get the right help when they need it most.
Our purpose is clear: to empower the humanitarian community to improve humanitarian response. We make this happen by supporting and championing the outcomes of robust research and proven innovations.
We empower the humanitarian community. Find out how we can support you...
Cash transfers and COVID-19: Experiences from Kiryandongo, Uganda
IDinsight examined how large, unconditional cash transfers influence refugee household knowledge and behaviours during a pandemic. They concluded that one-off cash-transfers do not guarantee food security, and that food insecurity should be considered alongside assessment of future risks of COVID-19 infection in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Uganda.
Principal Investigators: Dr Daniel Stein and Dr. Heather Lanthorn (IDinsight)
The study found that one-off cash transfers did not achieve food security for all refugees- but do provide moderate protection from food insecurity. Food insecurity should be considered alongside assessment of future risks of COVID-19 infection in the settlement.
Little is known about the effects of large cash transfers in contexts of protracted displacement. This includes the influence of cash transfers on health behaviours during shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
IDinsight planned to develop evidence in this area by building on an ongoing impact evaluation of GiveDirectly’s unconditional cash transfer program in Kiryandongo refugee settlement, Uganda. They compared refugee households who have already received their GiveDirectly cash transfer with refugee households who were scheduled to receive their cash transfer in the near future, in order to develop better evidence on how unconditional cash transfers influence refugee household knowledge and behaviours during a pandemic.
Using three rounds of structured phone surveys, the team gathered data on a variety of outcomes including food security and responses to COVID-19.
Dr. Heather Lanthorn
We have been able to work with an inspiring team in Uganda -- themselves mostly South Sudanese refugees -- to collect meaningful data on the experience of being a refugee during a time of additional hardship. We hope this research will both reveal the work that needs to be done as well as some ways to do it.
Dr Daniel Stein
Life for refugees is difficult at the best of times, and the COVID-19 crisis has compounded many of the challenges refugee households already face. We hope our research can help policy makers make evidence-informed decisions that will improve refugee lives now and in future health crises.
What were the key findings?
Refugee households are food insecure. Overall, both households that had and had not received their cash transfer were food insecure in October 2020. 79% of control respondents and 73% of treatment respondents skipped at least one meal in the prior week.
Cash transfer recipients experience moderately less food insecurity. In both July and October 2020, food insecurity is moderately reduced — by 0.2SD on a food insecurity index — among households who received the transfer compared to those who had not.
Respondents regularly leave their house and grounds. In October 2020, 85% of respondents reported leaving their homes at least once in the past week. Only one-third of these could maintain social distancing while out. While 84% of respondents reported wearing masks when out, they said others did not.
What does this mean for policymakers and practitioners?
Large, one-off cash transfers, provided before a shock provide moderate protection against food insecurity several months after the shock began. However, large unconditional cash transfers do not achieve food security for all in the context of a widespread shock like a pandemic, which combined increased market prices, reduced employment, eliminated school lunches, and reduced humanitarian aid.
If food security and nutrition are key policy goals, large cash transfers may not be the optimal policy for this environment. Households tended to use the transfers on bulky spending needs (such as home improvement), which don’t translate directly into improved food security.
Food insecurity should be considered alongside assessment of future risks of COVID-19 infection
in the settlement. With further cuts in monthly food/cash rations planned in February 2021, people’s ability to stay home or stay distanced will likely further drop in order to earn income for food and other needs.
You are seeing this because you are using a browser that is not supported. The Elrha website is built using modern technology and standards. We recommend upgrading your browser with one of the following to properly view our website:
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of browsers. We also do not intend to recommend a particular manufacturer's browser over another's; only to suggest upgrading to a browser version that is compliant with current standards to give you the best and most secure browsing experience.