Layering Cash Into Market Systems Programs: Catalysing Market-Driven Recovery in Nigeria

A person using a dehydrator.
25 June 2023 • UPDATED 05 July 2023

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With global inequality and food insecurity on the rise in the aftermath of COVID-19 and other economic and sociopolitical shocks, Mercy Corps shares this learning paper highlighting the use of short-term humanitarian response layered into a market systems development programme to support positive coping and accelerate resilient recovery. The paper aims to assist the aid community in understanding which responses are appropriate, when, and by whom to inform future market-driven crisis responses.

Mercy Corps and its implementing partners the International and the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) and Save the Children have been implementing the USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity (RRA) in Northeast Nigeria since 2019. This learning brief examines RRA’s response to COVID-19, which used unconditional cash transfers to help households cope, jumpstart local economies, and prevent further backsliding among the businesses that marginalised groups rely on most. This combination of approaches enabled Mercy Corps to assess the impact that cash transfers can have on MSD programming, including both operational lessons and insights into how cash affects market actor incentives and behavior.

The brief highlights:

  • The positive impact of Northeast Nigeria’s short-term cash response, particularly in improving coping and recovery for marginalised groups.
  • The importance of pre-existing market knowledge, networks, and partnerships to the design and impact of humanitarian interventions.
  • Operational lessons for implementing direct-delivery interventions alongside market facilitation strategies.
  • Ideas for how to leverage cash responses to support inclusive change in local economies.

This is one of a series of briefs produced by Mercy Corps to capture learning on its Markets in Crisis approaches, including recent lessons from market-based drought response in Ethiopia. The series focuses on operational lessons; evidence of market-based coping and adaptation; and pathways to resilient market systems change. For more information, you can also see snapshot lessons from programmes, which serves as a primer for this series.