Published on Nasikiliza

Coordination, synergy leads to immediate help for Malagasy to cope with COVID-19

This page in:
Coordination et travail en synergie offrent aux Malgaches une aide immédiate, en réponse à la pandémie Coordination et travail en synergie offrent aux Malgaches une aide immédiate, en réponse à la pandémie

It is Saturday at 7 am in Antananarivo. Little by little, the big courtyard of the technical high school of Alarobia fills up. Beneficiaries of the Tosika Fameno, an unconditional cash transfer program, line up in single file and wait to be received at the cash desks. Identity cards in hand, the agents of the Development Intervention Fund (FID), the implementing agency, invite them to respect the barrier gestures.

To combat the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Malagasy government has announced containment measures in the four major cities most affected—Antananarivo, Moramanga, Toamasina and Fianarantsoa—thus directly affecting vulnerable households whose incomes are already fragile and those whose financial resources are suddenly cut off. In this exceptional context of constraint, social safety nets are proving to be a powerful tool to help families meet their basic food needs, avoid selling their assets and livelihoods to survive, protect their human capital, while respecting the rules of containment.

We approach a group and speak with Marcelline Rasoanantoandro. She was one of the first Tananarivians to register with their fokontany the week of April 13 to benefit from the cash transfer. Twelve days later, she returns to receive the 100,000 ariary (the equivalent of 27USD).

Four weeks was the time between the government's declaration of the need to implement a cash transfer program and the distribution of the money to the beneficiaries. This is a record deployment considering that this is the first time Madagascar has implemented a social protection program in an urban environment.

Many factors have contributed to this speedy intervention. First, there was better coordination and synergy of actions between social protection stakeholders. For the first time, the Cash Working Group (CWG), the platform for coordinating cash transfer interventions, fully played its coordinating role. While this structure had previously confined itself to the role of monitoring and discussion platform, this time it succeeded in developing a single, harmonized strategy for the COVID-19 response in the social protection sector, jointly validated by the government and the partners.


This strategy and the accompanying tools were developed rapidly, one week after the government's declaration, thanks to the experiences acquired by the main partners, including the World Bank, during the harmonized response to the drought in the south of the country in 2019. This improved coordination also made it possible to avoid duplication of interventions, which was not previously the case. The response strategy includes the intervention localities and the number of beneficiaries, and funds are distributed according to the financial capacities of the partners and the availability of their funding. Second, there was better prioritization and identification of vulnerable areas and households thanks to recent data from the general population and housing census, and the experiences of the two agencies most experienced in cash transfer distributions in Madagascar, including the World Food Program (WFP) and the Development Intervention Fund (DIF). For the first time, a prioritization of the most vulnerable areas was carried out at the finest level of the administrative division, using an economic model that made it possible to estimate the level of poverty in a given area.

In addition to the data from the general population census, the National Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) provided its enumerators and tablets for the pre-registration phase. In the end, the program was able to register more than 244,000 households in the four confinement zones (Analamanga, Alaotra Mangoro, Atsinanana and Haute Matsiatra). This phase was entrusted to the WFP and FID to ensure that the uniqueness of the methodology and communication were fully respected, and to ensure that the operation was not overly delayed as many partners were not yet ready to deploy due to the immediate lack of funds. For the World Bank, the main partner in this Tosika Fameno program, the existence of the "crisis response" subcomponent in its Social Safety Nets project enabled FID to deploy rapidly in the field.

Third, for the payment phase itself, the social welfare sector has expanded collaboration with a primary bank, a money transfer agency, and the post office, in addition to telephone companies and microfinance institutions. The post office even decided to extend its services to electronic accounts and was able to open an account for more than 22,000 households in the Urban Commune of Antananarivo. This response has thus strengthened financial inclusion in urban areas.

Finally, a communication and mobilization strategy was developed by all the partners and validated at the national level to better support the interventions and help raise awareness of the actions and measures that act as barriers to COVID-19. Civil society was also fully involved from the start, to better ensure the follow-up of interventions at the beneficiary level.

In developing countries such as Madagascar, regular social protection programs are often concentrated in rural areas. This response to COVID-19 is an opportunity to build a social protection system in urban areas through the establishment of a social registry to reach the most vulnerable quickly in the event of a crisis and an urban program of resilience and economic inclusion for informal households once the pandemic is over.


Julia Rachel Ravelosoa

Senior Economist in Social Protection

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000