Digital Cash Transfers for Emergency Response: Lessons From Cameroon

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Cameroon launched an emergency cash transfers program in urban areas. It aimed to mitigate the adverse economic impacts by providing temporary income support to poor informal sector workers unable to access other social protection benefits. Eighty thousand beneficiaries, mostly women, were selected to receive three transfers amounting to $275 (FCFA 180,000). A process evaluation was conducted in 2021 to document lessons learned from this first experience with digital government-to-people (G2P) payments in Cameroon. The evaluation combined extensive consultations with project implementers as well as focus group discussions and phone surveys with beneficiaries.

The research revealed a strong demand for mobile money payments among the urban cash transfers beneficiaries. A substantial majority (78 percent) expressed a preference for payments directly into their mobile money accounts rather than in cash or through other methods. However, it's important to acknowledge that this preference might not entirely represent the broader population, particularly in rural areas. Challenges persist in these regions concerning network coverage, civil registration, and financial literacy.

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By Ioana Botea & Omar Ndiaye