Ideas & Updates

UN Helping to Coordinate Payments to Thousands of Frontline Ebola Responders

© Bossman Owusu/UNDP Ghana

The Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) is supporting the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) work with the authorities in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to coordinate payments for thousands of treatment centre staff, lab technicians, contacts tracers and burial teams.

UNDP-UNCDF workshop

Participants at a UNDP-UNCDF workshop held in Accra from 5-8 November 2014 to coordinate payments for Ebola response providers.

Under the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), UNDP is helping to track payments and improve the existing systems through which they are being delivered to the Ebola response workers.

“Success in the response, down to the district level, depends on these women and men who are risking their lives every day to fight the disease. Paying them in a timely manner is crucial. That helps to sustain them and their families, and it ensures a steady inflow of personnel who can help stop this disease outbreak,” said Helen Clark, the Administrator of UNDP.

Paying Ebola response workers will go a long way in helping those affected by Ebola, and in attracting additional human resources to strengthen the response. In Sierra Leone, UNDP technical advisors assisted the government with two nationwide payments in November of more than 12,000 Ebola response workers, while in Guinea and Liberia, efforts are underway to check payrolls and review existing payment mechanisms and capacities.

Chris Dooley of BTCA has been seconded to UNDP and is now helping design and implement its regional programme for payments to Ebola response workers. “We are supporting UNDP and UNMEER to track payments and improve existing payments systems for the Ebola Response Workers. In addition, BTCA is bringingtogether bilateral partners such as USAID, the private sector partners such as Visa and MasterCard and international organizations such as Mercy Corps, to ensure that the best possible expertise and resources are available,” said Mr. Dooley.

Besides supporting payments of the workers’ salaries and incentives on time, the objective of the programme is also to strengthen and develop systems that will expand access to affordable financial services after this medical emergency is over.

Reinforcing existing services and accelerating the shift from cash to electronic payments can improve the livelihoods of low-income people by advancing financial inclusion, enabling people to build savings, and accelerating the growth of emerging economies.

“This work is in line with BTCA’s mission to partner with governments, development partners and the private sector to identify and implement the most effective approach to transition to digital payments, given the local market conditions,” said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director of the Better Than Cash Alliance.

Hosted by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), BTCA is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, MasterCard, Omidyar Network, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Visa Inc. Besides BTCA, UNCDF is also supporting UNDP through its Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) programme in Liberia.

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