Approximately 6,000 informal businesses, comprising of mostly petty traders (women and youth), are expected to benefit from a cash transfer of US$100.00 each from December 2020 through January 2021 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has announced. This initiative is part of UNDP COVID-19 support for protecting the vulnerable in Liberia’s informal sector.
The intervention is supported by UNDP Liberia, Canada Fund for Local Initiative (CLFI) and the Embassy/Consulate-General of the Federal Republic of Germany.
This support is informed by a recent (2020) Rapid Assessment on the socio-economic Impact of COVID-19, commissioned by the United Nations Country Team in Liberia, with the technical lead of the UNDP, which reveals that more vulnerable populations are expected to be poorer than their non-vulnerable counterparts.
The report shows that while the COVID-19 impact does not spare anyone, the reality is that the ‘new poor’ are mainly working in the self-employed services sector (46.2%). Livelihoods of those that are in vulnerable employment are therefore expected to be the hardest hit.
It is estimated that the poverty rate will increase by 2.5% for vulnerable workers in comparison to 1.9% for the non-vulnerable employed. Further, 90% of the new poor households have at least one member working in vulnerable employment.
These households have higher absolute rates of poverty, estimated at 63% in contrast to 55% for the non-vulnerable employed.
With 42% of the population living in extreme poverty and subsisting on less than US$1.90 per day, the COVID-19 response has necessitated an urgent and immediate need to protect vulnerable groups, including those living in extreme poverty and areas mostly affected by COVID-19.
The overall goal of the intervention is to provide emergency livelihood assistance to informal businesses, mostly women and youth, by enabling them to fulfill the basic needs of their families and to absorb the economic shocks to informal businesses during the pandemic.
UNDP, through this intervention, in responding to the livelihood needs of vulnerable populations is supporting the Government of Liberia to achieve Objectives 5 (minimize socio-economic impact, including through multi-sectoral partnerships) of the National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan.
The beneficiaries were selected through a computer-based random sampling from a database of more than 10,000 petty traders and small businesses surveyed from the counties most impacted by COVID-19 in Liberia.