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Giving Directly to fight poverty

Posted 26th September 2019

GIF is delighted to announce a $2.1 million grant to GiveDirectly, a charity doing unrestricted cash transfers via a mobile money payments platform to some of the world’s poorest people.

Funding from GIF will go towards a first-of-its-kind cash transfers for refugees’ innovation, delivering transfers of approximately $1,000 to over 9,200 long-term refugees and host nationals in Uganda.

The non-profit uses a rigorous, data-driven model to identify potential cash transfer recipients and monitor the outcome of the transfer. GiveDirectly’s innovation is to test whether delivering a relatively large, lump-sum cash transfer, as opposed to stream, subsistence payments or in-kind aid, can empower refugees to jump-start a better life, meet their own needs, and build sustainable livelihoods.

By generating learnings and adding to the evidence base, GiveDirectly aims to influence the effectiveness and efficiency of aid money spent on refugee resettlement. Traditional methods are typically in-kind forms of relief, such as food, shelter or clothes.

While cash transfers account for only about 10% of humanitarian aid, studies have linked them to significant improvements in school attendance and access to health care.

Recipients also tend to save or invest some of the money, which promotes income generation instead of reliance on aid.

Photo courtesy of GiveDirectly’s Kenya program

This specific project, in Uganda’s Kiryandongo settlement, builds on an operational pilot to rigorously test the impact of this solution through a randomised control trial (RCT). The funding from GIF will be used between 2019 and 2021.

As lump-sum cash transfers gain traction over time, the team behind GiveDirectly anticipate this program can be scaled to over a million long-term refugees in countries where similar progressive policies allow refugees to work and access basic services such as education and healthcare. To catalyse this shift in the sector, GiveDirectly has partnered with the reputed independent research company, IDinsight, to implement and assess this program.

GiveDirectly Chief Operating Officer Isobel Coleman said: “Generating more rigorous evidence to drive efficiency in international giving is at the core of GiveDirectly, and having the financial backing from donors like the Global Innovation Fund allows us to continue to assess the impact of cash transfers. We’re pleased and excited to put this funding to work – to help empower refugee households and the national communities who host them; and to help us improve our model for the future.”

GIF CEO Alix Zwane said: “By targeting long-term refugees with an innovative approach – using large, unconditional cash transfers – GiveDirectly can have a huge impact on enabling the poorest and most vulnerable to build sustainable livelihoods. GIF is excited to partner with an organisation with a vision for scale that is committed to sharing knowledge and improving their effectiveness through RCTs of their work.”