December 18, 2020
10 AM-11:15 AM EST
Webinar, United States

This webinar is part of IPA's RECOVR Webinar Series: Bringing Evidence to COVID-19 Policy Responses in the Global South. Together with our partners, we are using this series to rapidly share what we are learning with the policy and research community to support evidence-informed response efforts. More information about other events in the series is available here.

Cash assistance has been a popular response to the COVID-19 crisis, with 340 programs introduced by 156 countries since March 2020. While cash transfers have been shown to be effective for poverty relief in many settings, the pandemic poses a range of new challenges for cash. For example, can cash transfers help people to cope when a pandemic hits on top of the lean season when people are already going hungry? How does cash assistance affect food security and public health behavior within refugee populations, who may be uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19? To what extent do universal basic income programs help beneficiaries navigate unforeseen shocks? Did COVID-19 disrupt markets in rural areas, and to what extent did cash cushion the blow?

On December 18, 2020, this webinar shared findings from three evaluations that consider these questions and assess the impacts of cash transfers on recipients’ socioeconomic well-being in Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, and Malawi within the context of the pandemic. Rachel Strohm (IPA Social Protection Program) moderated a discussion and Q&A following the presentations. 

Watch the webinar recording below:


Panelists and Discussion Topics

  • Caroline Teti, Director of Recipient Advocacy, GiveDirectly, presented on GiveDirectly’s ongoing work in Uganda, Kenya, Liberia, and Malawi, and how operations have shifted amidst the pandemic to provide immediate relief to households through cash transfers. Learn more on GiveDirectly's website and reach out to the GiveDirectly team for direct questions. 
  • Tavneet Suri, Associate Professor of Applied Economics, MIT, discussed a new study on universal basic income (UBI) in Kenya during the pandemic that considers past UBI recipients’ levels of hunger, health, and mental health during the crisis. The paper is available here.
  • Heather Lanthorn, Associate Director, IDinsight, discussed interim findings from IDinsight’s ongoing evaluation of the impact of cash transfers from GiveDirectly in the Kiryandongo refugee settlement in Uganda. Learn more on the IDinsight project page here.
  • David Sungho Park, PhD Candidate in Economics, University of California, Santa Cruz, presented a new working paper that examines how the COVID disruptions have affected poor rural areas of Liberia and Malawi, and the relationship between past cash transfers and recipients’ present food security.