Cash Incentive Project for Teachers amidst COVID-19

Education Cash Incentives strengthens the passion and profession of teachers in Yemen

05 May 2020

“Some female teachers stopped going to work because they could not afford to pay for transportation,” said Afrah, a science teacher who lives in Dhamar with her husband and six children. “As for me, there had been many times when I thought of quitting,” she added.

As March 2020 marked the sixth year of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the country’s education system is on the verge of collapse and many teachers are no longer receiving their salary, making it very difficult for them to continue working for schools. Ensuring teachers’ attendance is important as it contributes to enabling children to access education, especially for those vulnerable in displaced locations.


a woman receiving cash assistance
UNICEF/Yemen/PMU/2020/Al Radai

UNICEF launched the Cash Incentives to Support Teachers and School-based Staff Project in 2019 to provide monthly incentives in local currency equivalent of 50 USD to teachers and school-based staff not in receipt of salary. The first phase of this project covered a total of 128,216 teachers and school-based staff for the school year 2018/2019, impacting the daily lives of approximately 2.89 million students.

The project’s second phase in the current school year 2019/2020 covered salaries for five months from October 2019 through February 2020 and reached 111,550 teachers and school-based staff among total 111,773 beneficiaries who met the eligibility criteria. There is a verification process in preparation for the cash incentives delivery. Teachers and school-based staff must meet an attendance threshold of 75 per cent of the school functional days in a given month. Once this requirement is met, they are verified and become eligible for the payment.

The most recent and fourth payment cycle, which concluded on the 7th of May, was implemented under very constrained circumstances with the ongoing conflict and growing number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen. The delivery modality was especially challenging as it needed to take place without putting the health of both service providers and beneficiaries at risk.

UNICEF’s Response to COVID-19 in Cash Payments

a man sanitizing his hands
A beneficiary receives hand sanitiser at a payment site in Dhamar governorate
men standing in a line holding informative flyers
Teachers practice social distancing with COVID-19 awareness leaflets while awaiting verification in Sa’ada governorate

UNICEF undertook an exhaustive assessment of the risks and identified mitigation measures considering different scenarios on possible control measures and restrictions. Multiple protective measures were required for both service providers and beneficiaries. Payment agents and verification officers were provided with face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers, as well duly briefed on the necessary protection measures. Personal protective measures for the beneficiaries were supported by placing awareness banners at the payment sites and distributing leaflets during the verification and cash disbursement process. In order to prevent overcrowding at payment sites, UNICEF extended the payment period, scheduled and informed beneficiaries, through SMS, specific days to collect the disbursement.

“My profession of teaching is considered a national and religious duty, let alone a source of income. Seeing my students and thinking of disappointment I would cause them helped me continue teaching. I believe that the granted incentives were really god-sent and I am thankful to UNICEF for that.”

a teacher at the blackboard

The preparations for another project are underway for the first cash disbursement to beneficiaries. It will provide remunerations to 2,300 female teachers working in rural areas and cover primary needs that allow smooth school operation, such as basic school supplies and minor school rehabilitations.

A new verification and payment process is planned as well for those teachers and school-based staff who were unable to meet the verification requirements due to loss of ID or changes in their employment status which had not been reflected in the previous beneficiary list.

UNICEF Yemen will continue working and to ensure that all eligible beneficiaries are able to collect their well-deserved salaries safely and to keep their students learning for a better future.