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.
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.
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.
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.
For more information and recent updates please visit IDinsight’s website.
The feedback from enumerators who switched from in-person to phone surveys during COVID-19 provides valuable insights to strengthen phone surveys.View
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