At the height of the Ebola crisis in 2014, the majority of the Ebola Response Workers (ERWs) were not receiving their share of the hazard pay, which was the monetary payment that had been promised to them in return for the dangerous and critical work that they were doing in treating Ebola patients.

ERWs were also having to pay up to 50% of their earnings to supervisers due to inherent patronage structures, and there was no system in place which could hear out their complaints and address them promptly. ERWs also often had to travel long distances to collect their hazard pay, which proved detrimental to their work and livelihood. Due to all these factors, the ERWs, who formed the backbone of the Ebola crisis response, were threatening to go on strike.

Fraudulent activities were also rampant, with some ERWs double-dipping into the hazard pay through ghost profiles and no one to catch them due to lack of transparency and structured management.


iDT Labs was brought in by UNDP, UNCDF and the National Ebola Response Centre to design and implement a solution.

We developed a worker registration and payment system that was integrated with the existing mobile payment eco-system. By leveraging open source components, a solution was rolled out in two weeks.

Through this unique solution we verified the identity of 27,000 ERWs in all 14 districts of Sierra Leone via biometric verification and distributed hazard payments directly to them via mobile money.

We implemented an end-to-end data collection system that used smartphones, open source computer vision tools, ODK data collection toolkits and cloud computing to verify the mobile money payment processing and biometric verification of all ERWs. We also provided on ground technical, logistic and operational support to the verification team. We also verified the number of ghost dippers and fraudulent ERW workers in the system, and reported issues of hazard money mismanagement to the NERC.


While designing and implementing the solution, we had to be careful about several overlapping factors.

If our solution was going to work efficiently, it had to be deployable in any environment. Sierra Leone has a poor internet infrastructure, and we had to ensure that this would not get in the way. We also had to ensure that our solution was not time consuming. The crisis was spiralling out of control fast, and our design had to be put into effect immediately.

We also had to be careful about the logistics of implementing the registration and verification service. ERWs were working in all 14 districts of the country, and it was critical to reach them all.

A significant consideration was to also keep all stakeholders updated and heard in order to avoid organisational issues and ensure the project continued smoothly till completion.


By using light weight open source technology, we were able to develop a basic but highly effective system to register and verify the ERWs. By connecting our solution to existing mobile payment methods, we were able to save time and set up the payments channel quickly.

In order to ensure our solution was reaching all the ERWs, our team provided logistical and management support. We had 5 leads reporting to one project manager, with each field leading 6 mobile verification officers.

The CEO of iDT Labs, Joe Abbas Bangura, used his outreach and influence within the business and political community in Sierra Leone to get the help of the local authorities, the police and the army in arranging the security and the logistics for the project team.
A project steering committee was established, comprising of representatives from all of the stakeholders, such as the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC), UNDP and UNCDF. This committee ensured equality in the decision-making process by weighing impartially the requests and demands of all of the stakeholders during the various stages of the project.

An issue resolutions desk was also established, where the stakeholders could log any problems related to payment or verification of the ERWs. These issues were looked into and resolved at the earliest.

Best case practices and KPIs were also established for ensuring that the verifications were done in a timely manner. For example, every officer was trained and instructed to complete the verification of one individual within 5 minutes.


We prevented the collapse of the healthcare system in Sierra Leone. We added credibility to the efforts of the government in galvanising resources to help communities fight Ebola

We generated greater awareness and acceptance of mobile payment as a viable cash transfer mechanism in Sierra Leone.

We made the government more receptive to using open source technology for improving its departmental processes. The solution is now being used by the Ministry of Health as its Worker's Registration System