Issue Brief - Payments Programme for Ebola Response Workers
This Issue Brief chronicles the background, basic facts, results and emerging lessons from the UN’s engagement in ensuring that 49,250 ERWs, or around 70 percent of the estimated total Ebola response workforce across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, were paid fully and on time during this largest ever EVD outbreak.
Ebola response workers (ERWs), along with affected communities, proved to be the cornerstone of the international response to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa. Over 60,000 ERWs, mostly nationals of the epicentre countries, have been at the frontlines: educating communities in epidemic zones, tracing and monitoring the exposed, transporting and caring for the sick, and providing safe and dignified burials to the deceased. These ERWs took on significant risk to aid in the response, and large numbers became ill or died during the epidemic.
Ensuring a steady supply of trained, motivated and compensated ERWs, in the face of increased risk, was critical to stem the EVD epidemic. As such, in October 2014, UNDP, with support from the UN Mission for the Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and other partners, set up and coordinated a programme to ensure that ERWs were being paid on time their full salary plus certain hazard incentives. UNDP’s efforts in launching and administrating the resulting Payments Programme for Ebola Response Workers (PPERW), particularly the use of innovative, digitized payment systems, built upon its previous work and were in furtherance of its Strategic Plan 2014-2017. UNDP’s Strategic Plan includes building resilience to future shocks as one of three key areas of work, and lists as one of seven outcomes that countries have strengthened institutions to progressively deliver universal access to basic services. UNDP’s experiences in PPERW also provide several lessons that are relevant to future health and development crisis situations.