VectorLink (VL) Tanzania’s Finance and Administration team has made strides in improving indoor residual spraying (IRS) operations in Zanzibar with a full transition to mobile payments for IRS seasonal workers. While VL Tanzania mainland has used mobile transactions for many years beginning with the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) Africa Indoor Residual Spraying Project, Zanzibar has faced multiple challenges with cash payments as the preferred option for IRS seasonal workers. In addition to being more expensive and time-consuming, cash payments expose the project Finance and Administration team to security risks as they are tasked with carrying large amounts of cash into the field. Zanzibar had the added challenge of IRS seasonal workers using mobile phones that were not registered to Vodacom M-Pesa, the VectorLink vendor for mobile payments. Sending a payment to a non-registered number meant the additional cost to the project and no way to validate the phone number, which increased the risk of paying the wrong person, bounce back payments (a major cause of increased costs and payment issues), and/or possibly delay of payments.
After multiple challenges with paying IRS seasonal workers in the 2018 campaign in both Pemba and Unguja, VectorLink Tanzania agreed that cash payments during the IRS 2019 campaign were no longer an option in Zanzibar. To ensure everyone could easily make the change to Vodacom M-Pesa, the Finance and Administration team developed some key strategies, such as including the vendor during the planning stages with the government to ensure that their network is available in the sites where we were implementing. VL Tanzania also ensured all applicants were notified during recruitment, in job description advertisements, and screening stages that they must have registered Vodacom numbers.
During the IRS training, Vodacom provided SIM cards and registered workers’ phones that did not use Vodacom SIMs. The adoption of M-Pesa as the primary mode of payment for all IRS seasonal workers saved time and money. Seasonal workers did not have to travel to collect their wages and could receive their pay while at work. Mobile payments also reduced the cost of transporting large amounts of cash to operational sites as well as the cost of security services or police escorts to move with the Finance and Admin team when they transported the cash.
Payments were made on time with very little challenges and at less cost than previous years. Phone numbers were validated before making payments, payments were done in bulk as opposed to individually, and security risks were reduced for the VL team. The mobile payments also help to empower women as female seasonal workers had full control over their wages because they received money directly to their phones. Thanks to the Finance and Administration team for making this happen.
Congratulations, VL Tanzania!