Impacts on the Communities and Beneficiaries
Economic and psycho-social impacts of UBI: An evidence based report
impactMarket’s UBI program was implemented in four of the five refugee camps in Ghana with the help of a local, grassroots NGO along with some of the residents from each camp. Krisan Refugee Camp showed the highest interest and quickest adoption of the program which reached 80% of its population in 6 months. The program includes any individual who has access to a smartphone and provides $1.5 a day to them directly on it. Of these beneficiaries, 65 refugees participated (10% of the total beneficiary population) in the study that explored two areas: the psychosocial impacts and the economic impacts of blockchain-powered UBI. The duration of the study was 8 months and its methodologies included surveys, self-reported questionnaires, and in-depth semi-structured interviews. The participants were grouped as Individuals, Homemakers, Business-owners, and Common leaders. ‘Individuals’ included students, workers, farmers, and unemployed refugees, while the Common Leaders included teachers from nearby schools, camp leaders, pastors, and imams from the camps.
One part of the report focuses on the economic impact of UBI for the recipients in Krisan, analyzing changes in recipients’ consumption behavior, their ability to save and invest, and their interaction with the labor market. Here are some of the highlights reported by an independent researcher.
- The report reveals that the primary use of these funds by Krisan beneficiaries was for purchasing food, accounting for 26% of the total amount distributed.
- Beyond addressing food insecurity, the introduction of UBI in Krisan has created new dynamics within the community. One notable change is the utilization of the received funds for purchasing mobile phone credits, with 11% of the camp’s inhabitants opting for this expenditure. The report suggests that expensive mobile data in Ghana motivated this decision. With internet access made possible, 43% of participants observed an increase in smartphone usage.
- An internet connection has been described by a refugee from Sierra Leone as a life-changing development, enabling business transactions and communication with family members through WhatsApp. Another significant finding from the study is that 20% of the beneficiaries used the funds for education, surpassing expenditure on clothing (13%) and transportation (17%).
- Access to a recurring amount to cover basic needs also had a direct effect also in a higher percentage of students being able to attend school (from tuition fees to supplies) and having more focus thanks to improved nutrition. Being that education is one of the key factors to breaking the cycle of poverty and unlocking access to better professional opportunities and living conditions, UBI has the potential to cause a long-lasting and intergenerational positive impact.
- Women especially benefited from UBI not only by supporting their families, mainly their children, but they could invest in personal feminine supplies.
While the economic impact of UBI might be clearly expected at first, the psychological effect is tremendous and was analyzed in the second part of the report. The diagram below shows the frequency of the usage of words during the interviews, reflected through the size of the font.
Feelings of community members in Krisan before receiving the UBI. Source: UBI, Blockchain & Refugees Report.
- The report explains that the changes can be analyzed from a family dynamics perspective, examining the role of women, or in terms of individuals’ evolving dreams and goals as daily stress is alleviated.
- The report’s data indicates a 63% increase in optimism among Krisan residents, accompanied by a 17% reduction in anxiety levels.
- One pastor living in Krisan mentioned that prior to the implementation of UBI, residents were too frustrated to interact with each other.
- Another testimonial from a woman in the community reveals that her family has “found happiness” after receiving UBI, as they can now feed their children when previously they struggled to feed them.
- impactMarket’s UBI program brought meaningful changes to people’s lives and their relationships in the camp. It instilled a sense of resilience, despite ongoing anxieties about their stateless condition.