Covid-19: Crisis as Opportunity for Urban Cash Transfers?

Categories : Customer and Users of Digital Payments, Humanitarian and digital social payments


More so than any other shock in recent memory, Covid-19 shone a spotlight on the precarious living and working conditions of many city dwellers, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), as well as the glaring deficiencies in their urban social protection systems. Despite some notable efforts to accelerate coverage in recent years, provision of urban social assistance at the beginning of the pandemic was still limited, for example reaching only 16% of the poorest quintile in low-income countries, compared to a 21% in rural areas.

This paper by ODI focuses on how cash transfers have been used to respond to the multidimensional crisis of Covid-19 in urban areas in LMICs. Based on a literature review and case studies, the paper distils lessons learned on opportunities and challenges when using cash transfers in urban settings in response to a large covariate shock such as a pandemic.