Piloting Mobile Money Cash Assistance in Sudan
In the 7 months since the onset of conflict in Sudan in April 2023, an estimated 6.1 million people have been displaced, making Sudan the country with the highest number of displaced individuals globally. Humanitarian organizations are considering cash assistance as a response to the crisis, employing methods such as direct cash payments, bank transfers, vouchers, and digital payments. Cash transfers provide flexibility for purchasing essentials and stimulate local economies. However, challenges, such as damage to banking infrastructure in Khartoum and the limited functionality of digital financial services (DFS), have impeded efficient delivery. A Mercy Corps pilot in Gedaref town tested mobile money for cash assistance, revealing insights into challenges like limited self-serve functionality, unfamiliarity with mobile money, and phone ownership issues among program participants.
The conflict disrupted mobile money services, and despite the challenges faced during the pilot, the potential for growth in Sudan’s mobile money ecosystem exists. Collaborative efforts between mobile network operators, financial service providers, and regulatory authorities are crucial to expanding access to digital financial services and enhancing cash assistance delivery. Recommendations include investments in restoring telecommunication and electricity infrastructure, supporting increased mobile phone penetration, and providing awareness and education materials to improve financial literacy among recipients.