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Unconditional cash transfers in Kiryandongo refugee settlement, Uganda

IDinsight is conducting an impact evaluation with GiveDirectly to understand the effects of cash transfers on refugees and people living in communities surrounding the Kiryandongo refugee settlement in Uganda.

Enumerators Christian Daniel Opio and Patrick Kwol Gatwoth interview a respondent respondent in Jan2020 ©Heather Lanthorn/IDinsight

Round 1 report: Cash and COVID-19 experiences from Kiryandongo - 387 KB

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Round 2 report: Cash and COVID-19 experiences from Kiryandongo - 2 MB

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Round 3 report: Cash and COVID-19 experiences from Kiryandongo - 2 MB

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Research Snapshot on Food Security amid COVID-19 - 660 KB

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Pre-analysis plan

Decision-maker’s challenge

Cash transfers are increasingly being seen as a way to help families overcome poverty, but many experts question whether they exacerbate social issues, especially in and around refugee settlements. The non-profit organization GiveDirectly works extensively in East Africa, providing large, one-off unconditional cash transfers to households. GiveDirectly wanted to understand the potential role that large, unconditional cash transfers can play in improving refugees’ wellbeing, namely those in protracted displacement in East Africa. In these locations, refugees may have some, but not all, of the same investment opportunities as citizens. While an initial 2018 pilot, conducted internally by GiveDirectly, indicated operational feasibility and positive results of cash transfers to refugees in Uganda, they needed more evidence. GiveDirectly and other stakeholders working to support refugees wanted to understand more about whether and how cash can be transformed into welfare gains within constraints faced by refugees. They also wanted to understand whether cash transfers influence social relations amongst refugees and between refugees and Ugandan “host” communities.

Impact opportunity

Uganda is one of the top five refugee-accepting countries in the world, and one of the largest in Africa with an estimated 1.5 million refugees and asylum-seekers living within its borders (UNHCR 2018). Many of these people will remain in Uganda long-term, given the protracted nature of today’s conflicts. They often need both short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term support, as do many of the communities surrounding these settlements.

GiveDirectly built on the results from its pilot cash transfers by conducting a larger, more rigorous study in the Kiryandongo district.

For this project, GiveDirectly provides ~USD $1000 in unconditional cash transfers to ~10,000 refugee households and ~4,300 host community households.

Our approach

IDinsight’s impact evaluation consisted of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and a qualitative study. IDinsight completed the RCT baseline study in late 2019. Our longitudinal qualitative study commenced in early 2020, and moved to phone-based interviews with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through IDinsight’s regular phone interviews with respondents, we have been able to share with GiveDirectly changes in the settlement as a result of COVID-19 and associated response measures.

In addition, in mid-2020 IDinsight received additional support from Elrha to conduct rapid phone surveys in Kiryandongo refugee settlement. These phone surveys examine how large, unconditional cash transfers influence the ability of refugees to adhere to COVID-19 public health measures, and to access health services during a pandemic. They also collected data on refugee households; knowledge, action, and practices related to COVID-19. IDinsight will make findings available to humanitarian organizations in Uganda to inform their pandemic responses.

The results

The project is ongoing.

This webinar is part of UC Berkeley’s Berkeley Conversations Series, IPA’s RECOVR Webinar Series: Bringing Evidence to COVID-19 Policy Responses in the Global South, and the JDC’s Event Series on Forced Displacement.

This webinar is part of IPA’s RECOVR Webinar Series: Bringing Evidence to COVID-19 Policy Responses in the Global South.