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Case Study

Layering Cash Into Market Systems Programs: Catalyzing Market-Driven Recovery in Nigeria

22 August 2023 — By Sasha Muench for Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps has been implementing the USAID funded Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity (RRA), a market systems development (MSD) program, in Northeast Nigeria since 2019. In response to COVID-19, RRA layered on a short-term cash transfer activity to help households cope, jumpstart local economies, and prevent further backsliding among the businesses that marginalized groups rely on most. This combination of approaches enabled Mercy Corps to assess the impact that cash transfers can have on MSD programming, including both operational lessons and insights into how cash affects market actor incentives and behavior.

The brief highlights

  • The positive impact of Northeast Nigeria’s short-term cash response, particularly in improving coping and recovery for marginalized groups.
  • The importance of pre-existing market knowledge, networks, and partnerships to the design and impact of humanitarian interventions.
  • Operational lessons for implementing direct-delivery interventions alongside market facilitation strategies, and
  • Ideas for how to leverage cash responses to support inclusive change in local economies.

This is one of a series of Briefs produced by Mercy Corps to capture learning on its Markets in Crisis approaches, including recent lessons from market-based drought response in Ethiopia. The series focuses on operational lessons; evidence of market-based coping and adaptation; and pathways to resilient market systems change. For more information, you can also see snapshot lessons from programs, which serves as a primer for this series.