Bangladesh is facing an unprecedented challenge in health and financial sectors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020. Apart from health hazard, the pandemic has forced millions out of their jobs, shrinking household income of middle and lower income groups in particular.
In response, the Programme Implementation Unit (PIU) of the Prosperity at PKSF initiated an emergency cash transfer programme titled ‘Emergency Assistance Programme (EAP)’. In all, the programme is transferring about BDT 310 million in three installments to some of the most vulnerable extreme poor households living in the 17 piloting unions in 10 districts.
The PIU and Prosperity’s nine downstream partner organisations (POs) has so far transferred BDT 92.18 million among 30,727 extreme poor households in the 1st installment. The emergency cash support, BDT 3,000 per household per month for three consecutive months, is aimed at ensuring food security at the EP HHs through the pandemic period as they face food shortage due to income and job loss. Disbursement of the 2nd installment is expected to begin in late January 2021.
In the 1st installment, over 94% of the cash was transferred electronically. While only about 6% (1,723 EP HHs) of cash was transferred directly, as these households do not have mobile phones or agent banking accounts.
Lessons learned from the EAP:
- Programme’s strong internal control through stringent targeting criteria and involvement of local administration (including Deputy Commissioner [DC], Upazila Nirbhahi Officer [UNO] and local elected representatives at the Union and Upazila level) helped to ensure leak-proof and smooth fund transfer.
- The Prosperity programme is implementing the EAP using existing project setup and with no additional operational cost.
- Up to 94% of the cash was transferred electronically.
- The programme found no misappropriation or no incidents of fraudulence, abuse or sexual harassment during the cash disbursement period.
Transparency is also ensured through rigorous field-level verification of cash transfer by the Prosperity project’s implementing partners and direct phone calls to the recipient households by the PKSF officials.