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Harnessing Digital Technology for Cash Transfer Programming in the Ebola Response. Lessons Learned from USAID/Office of Food for Peace Partners’ West Africa Ebola Responses (2015–2016)

September 2017 — By Tristan Dumas, Amandine Frisetti, Holly Welcome Radice

Globally, the adoption of digital technology has grown alongside the increase in cash transfer programming (CTP), often through the use of e-transfers, in part because of the potential gains in accountability, efficiency (cost and time) and effectiveness. The 2015 High Level Panel on Cash Transfers recommended delivering cash digitally where possible.

However, evidence from some challenging contexts suggests that where service providers are inexperienced and infrastructure is weak, e-transfers may not be the best option. This is confirmed by the experience of United States Agency for International Development/Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) partners in Sierra Leone and Liberia in using CTP in the response to the Ebola crisis of 2014-2015. Nevertheless, this case study shows that even where e-transfers are not the best option, digital technology can be an advantageous tool to track payments, confirm beneficiary identity and improve monitoring systems.