In light of the increasing number of Sudanese people in need of humanitarian support during the COVID-19 crisis, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) has decided to provide the Sudanese population with SEK 218 million (US$25 million) in cash grants to be disbursed via the country’s mobile phone network.
The Swedish support will be implemented through the World Bank’s Sudan Family Support Program, in collaboration with the Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and multi-ministerial Digital Transformation Agency. A cash grant of US$5 per person per month will be disbursed, covering 80 percent of the Sudanese population of 41 million people. The support could play a significant role in the stabilization of Sudan's fragile economy, while constituting a clear declaration of support for Sudan's democratic transition by the international community.
Sida's Director-General Carin Jämtin underlined the importance of cash support, "even if it is limited, paid directly to the person via a mobile phone," because it allows people to have more control of their finances and deciding what they need. According to Jämtin, this type of development assistance is becoming more common "because it is cost-effective. It reduces the number of intermediaries but also the risk of corruption, which is very important."
Sida’s support for the Sudan Family Support Program is complemented by an additional SEK 7 million (US$1 million) from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs Environment. Total funding available for the program is about US$2.0 billion through 15 additional development partners, including Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK.
Sudan is one of Sida’s partner countries, and in 2019, Sweden increased its official development assistance for Sudan by SEK 400 million (US$46 million) in support of the country’s transition to democracy.