Review of Food for Peace Market-Based Emergency Food Assistance Programs: Sierra Leone Case Study Report
Sierra Leone represents a remarkable experiment in market-based emergency programming using unconditional cash transfers and some conditional cash transfers Sierra Leone reflects the challenges of providing food assistance in the wake of a major infectious disease epidemic. Food insecurity increased due to severely restricted movement in affected communities. The epidemic created fear, confusion, and mistrust of the government, which presented great obstacles to the delivery of assistance. The review focuses on post-epidemic interventions to improve food security. This is the sole case study where larger, less frequent cash disbursements were given unconditionally to beneficiaries. The review finds that the cash modality choice and the tranche distributions were highly appropriate to the context and to beneficiary needs and preferences. There were initial delays due to establishing a cash supply chain and aligning the targeting with national social protection efforts, but once surpassed, the larger cash disbursements increased efficiency relative to more frequent distributions and allowed beneficiaries to buy foods in bulk. The savings from bulk purchases enabled beneficiaries to pay school fees and make modest long-term livelihood investments. The review team noted a high level of beneficiary enthusiasm for the program. The case also demonstrates significant coordination efforts among the FFP partners. Remarkably, cash transfers were successfully implemented despite poorly developed financial and telecommunications systems.