In the West African country of Mali, LDS Charities is working with another faith-based organization, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), on an innovative idea. What if those in need were given cash and instant access to money instead of food or supplies?
In the Macina District of the Ségou Region in Mali, last year’s crops didn’t yield a good harvest, and farmers are going through a prolonged lean season.
CRS is focusing on 1,655 households in 54 villages that had severely poor harvests last year. These households received $85 in cash and mobile money during the month of June and payments of $55 in July and August, totaling $195. Five villages located on the eastern bank of the Niger River are so remote and inaccessible during the rainy season that the cash was distributed in one lump sum.
The Mali project is one of several cash distribution projects that LDS Charities and its partners are helping to sponsor. These projects operate under a simple assumption: families in dire need will spend money on necessities to keep their loved ones alive. One of the best parts of these cash distribution programs is that people get to choose what’s best for them and their families.
Often, food distribution programs will give the same basic food items to families. These items usually include cooking oil, rice, beans, and salt. But eating the same food for months at a time isn’t good for overall health, and many families thrive when given more freedom to choose.
While some might worry that giving cash opens the door for people to abuse the system, testing has shown that those who receive the money don’t spend it on extraneous things—they spend it on what they need.
Using cash also provides a boost to local economies. CRS estimates that more than $300,000 will flow into the markets in Mali where beneficiaries tend to purchase goods using the money they have received through the project.
LDS Charities is proud to partner with CRS to help these farmers and their families. To learn more about cash distributions and CRS’s involvement with this charitable approach, visit crs.org/get-involved/advocate/public-policy/global-hunger/cash-based-approaches-and-lrp.