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23 Dec 2014
New York – With support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 16,000 nurses on the frontline in the fight against Ebola are receiving hazard pay through their mobile phones.
Workers receive text messages with security codes and information on nearby kiosks to pick up the extra pay they receive for risks associated with fighting Ebola.
“Paying Ebola workers is paramount,” said UNDP’s Country Director, Sudipto Mukerjee. “We need to ensure that the right people are getting paid the right amount at the right time.”
Nurse Marion Sesay said; “the money is helping us greatly. We can use the money for our kids, for our families. The money is good, but we just want this thing to end.”
Eighty percent of the workers have mobile phones and many people in Sierra Leone already send and receive money via their cell phones on network operators like Airtel or Africell.
Organized by Sierra Leone’s National Ebola Response Centre with assistance also from the World Bank and the African Development Bank, the mobile money system also helps tackle the longer term needs of some of the poorest and most vulnerable through giving access into the financial system.
‘It is extremely important to incentivize workers that are out in the field and responding on the frontline whether in a handling centre, managing cases in hospitals or drivers transporting patients says Tenzin Keyzom Ngodup, a UNDP specialist on cash transfers.
“The vision of this work that UNDP is undertaking is not limited to this crisis. Of course we are reacting and responding to the crisis at hand, but we’re also working on ensuring that a platform like this can be used in a future crisis or for financial inclusion in general.”
UNDP is bringing vast experience with cash transfer and payments from around the world to rapidly scale-up and streamline the mobile money system.
“It’s very important to maintain accountability, transparency and timeliness of the payments” said Keyzom Ngodop.
Reinforcing existing services can help expand the creation of markets, improve poverty reduction and resilience, boost economic growth and recovery, develop livelihoods of people with low incomes and empower women over time.
In Sierra Leone, UNDP technical advisors have assisted the government with two nationwide payments in November of more than 12,000 Ebola response workers, while in Guinea and Liberia, efforts are underway to check lists of workers and reinforce existing payment systems.
UNDP will continue to assist Sierra Leone’s National Emergency Response Centre as long as needed.
Nicolas Douillet, Communications Specialist, UNDP Africa. Tel: +1.212.906.5937 Nicolas.Douillet@undp.org
Lesley Wright, Communications Specialist, UNDP Sierra Leone, Tel: +232 (0)78 950 001 firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @UNDP #EbolaResponse