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Dignity and Cash

GiveDirectly’s unconditional cash transfers in Kiryandongo refugee settlement

Enumerators Christian Daniel Opio and Patrick review interview notes as part of the GiveDirectly project in Kiryandongo, Uganda. ©Heather Lanthorn/IDinsight

Report: Dignity and cash in a refugee settlement in Uganda - 452 KB

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Executive Summary

GiveDirectly has expressed its commitment to upholding dignity by learning and constantly improving its structures to serve people in a way that maximizes their autonomy. 

Dignity matters to all peoples but has a distinct meaning in various cultures. However, research shows that around the world, there are three common pathways for being more respectful of people’s dignity: increased representation, ensuring agency, and reduced inequality (Wein, 2021). Organizations need to be intentional in working towards fully respecting the dignity of the people they serve. 

This report summarizes our findings from exploring the meaning of respect in Uganda’s refugee context and whether people felt respected by GiveDirectly. The study further explored what GiveDirectly could do in future programs to improve the beneficiaries’ perception of respect. We found that how aid is delivered was of utmost importance to our respondents; hence transparency, fairness, timeliness, and respectfulness are paramount. 

We conducted 61 qualitative interviews and one focus group discussion with refugees from South Sudan and Ugandans drawn from refugee-hosting communities. This study was part of a larger impact evaluation of GiveDirectly’s cash transfer program in Kiryandongo refugee settlement, Uganda.

The high-level takeaways from this paper are as follows:

  • GiveDirectly was respectful in its interactions with respondents, and most respondents perceived the program as fair. 
  • The areas of improvement suggested by respondents focus on further efforts at transparency by GiveDirectly, in explaining decisions such as rolling out the program in cohorts and its selection criteria, particularly in the host community.
  • Our findings on aid preferences are mixed – there is a tendency towards cash, but some refugee respondents prefer in-kind support. 
  • Ugandan and South Sudanese respondents approach respect in many ways, freely combining respect for status, good behavior, and universal respect, and offering respect in turn to those who show it.