Liberia: Government Launches US$3.4m COVID-19 Relief Package for 15K Households in Montserrado

Monrovia – The Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection says all is set for the direct transfer of cash to 15 thousand households in Montserrado County.

Making the announcement at a press conference recently, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr said the intervention is part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – to assist extremely poor and food-insecure families affected by the pandemic.

According to Madam Saydee-Tarr, the total amount for the project is US$3.4 million provided by the United Kingdom through the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)/ UKaid. The FCDO, she said has also committed US$5 million dollars to the regular cash transfers in Maryland, Bomi, River Gee and Grand Kru Counties.

Speaking further, the Minister added that the initiative in Montserrado is a pilot project which is led by the Ministry’s Social Cash Transfer (SCT) Program under the Liberia Social Safety Nets Project which is being sponsored by FCDO/UKaid and the World Bank. She added that it is an expansion of the Government’s Social Protection portfolio as these households will be added to the Liberia Household Social Registry.

She added the Ministry selected geographies for this pilot using evidence-based criteria to define high levels of multi-dimensional poverty, including informal housing, propensity to natural disasters and health-specific infrastructure gaps creating additional vulnerability such as lack of access to drainage and public facilities. 

She noted that all households within the selected communities including Saye-Town, Blamo-Town, Slipway, among others are eligible to receive support from the Social Cash Transfer to meet immediate household needs and prevent the use of negative coping strategies caused by the pandemic.

On the mode of distribution, she mentioned that the cash will be received by a female in every household, except in a case where there is no female in the household; adding that a single person household is fifteen dollars per transfer, while six person plus household is ninety dollars per transfer.

“The government is committed to responding to the needs of all citizens and residents alike, as outlined in the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, whereas this Weah-led Administration remains dedicated to lifting 1 million people out of poverty,” she said.

“The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection will continue to seek means through which it can respond to the vulnerable population, as government’s foremost Social Protection Institution.”

The latest intervention of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social protection comes amid its ongoing cash transfer to nearly four thousand households in Maryland and Grand Kru Counties.

According to the Minister, the project transitioned from physical cash transfers to mobile money in December 2020, through which beneficiaries in Maryland and Grand Kru will receive two quarter-payments worth of transfers, totaling more than six hundred thousand United States dollar this February.

“Please do not see this as a mere handout as we track our beneficiaries and provide them accompanying measures to assist in their upliftment from poverty. This is done by working with our partner government Ministries (namely the Ministries of Agriculture and Health) to provide support in home gardening, and education on healthy lifestyles and on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), respectively.”

She thanked the partners including FCDO (formerly DFID), USAID, and the World Bank for their support and expressed hope that the Ministry will source more funding from partners to continue the work of the Liberia Social Safety Nets Projects to increase beneficiaries across the country.

Also at the event, the Mayor of Monrovia, Jefferson Koijee reemphasized the initiative was the government, headed by President George Weah’s commitment to uplifting the vulnerable people and pledge the City Corporation’s support to its successful implementation.

Namita Desai, Country Director of Give Directly said her institution is pleased to be chosen by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection as a partner to deliver their emergency social cash transfer pilot in urban areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Madam Desai lauded FCDO, the World Bank and USAID for their continued investment and engagement in building a strong social safety net for Liberia.

“We commend the MGCSP for their continued efforts to build the social safety net in Liberia, and for their commitment to reaching vulnerable populations in these unprecedented times,” she said.

“GiveDirectly is proud to play a part in that journey, and echoes the Minister’s hopes that this work can be scaled to reach more people in need.”

For his part, Mack Mulbah of the World Bank Country Office pledged the World Bank’s commitment to continuously work with the ministry to ensure the successful implementation of the program.

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