Saving Money, Saving Lives: A Case Study on the Benefits of Digitizing Payments to Ebola Response Workers in Sierra Leone

Case Study published May 18, 2016

At the height of the Ebola crisis, Sierra Leone turned to mobile wallets to make fast, accurate, and secure payments to Response Workers. Before digitization, cash payments were slow, inaccurate, and open to graft and theft.

Digitization cut payment times from over one month to around one week, putting an end to payment-related strikes. In doing so, digital payments strengthened Sierra Leone’s capacity to contain the Ebola disease, treat those infected, and ultimately save lives.

In the process, digitizing payments also delivered cost savings of more than US$10 million by eliminating double-payment, reducing fraud, removing the costs of physical cash transportation and security, and cutting travel costs for Response Workers.

This case study sets out key lessons from Sierra Leone’s experience using digital payments to help combat Ebola. In particular, with health epidemics, natural disasters, and conflicts on the rise, governments need to take early action, in partnership with the humanitarian and development community and the private sector. Specifically, this case study shows how putting in place critical infrastructure and public education before a crisis hits can have a major impact in saving money, and more importantly, saving lives.

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