Sierra Leone: Digital payments to Ebola response workers saved lives

Money Transfer

Mobile Data UsageMobile phones serving as digital “wallets” for payments to response workers proved an invaluable tool in Sierra Leone’s response to the Ebola crisis, according to a new study from the United Nations-based Better Than Cash Alliance.

With economic instability, natural disasters and political conflict now taking place at unprecedented rates, the new research offers valuable lessons on how to harness the power of technology to help emergency workers reach more people by paying them digitally during crises. The country has been Ebola free since January.

The report comes just ahead of the first ever United Nations World Humanitarian summit set to begin next week.

The study shows digital payments delivered compelling results in Sierra Leone, including:

– Cost savings of US $10.7 million for the government, taxpayers, development partners and response workers – the equivalent of funding Sierra Leone’s Free Health Care Program catering for 1.4 million children and 250,000 pregnant women annually.

– Reducing payment times from over one month on average for cash to one week.

– Preventing the loss of around 800 working days per month from the Ebola response workforce, helping save lives during this critical time.

– Saving response workers around $80,000 per month in travel costs by avoiding lengthy journeys to cash payment centers. Read the full story here: