Cash transfers in emergencies | Plan International Skip to main content
A woman who benefited from cash transfers in emergencies following an earthquake in Nepal

Cash transfers in emergencies

Cash and voucher transfers support people affected by disasters and conflicts to meet their basic needs such as food and shelter, and generate an income. This approach preserves people’s dignity as it gives them greater choice.

In certain emergencies, the supply of food to markets and shops is sustained but affected communities lose the means to buy it. In these cases, cash transfers ensure aid directly and quickly reaches those in greatest need. In addition, relief aid distributions can pose logistical problems and disrupt local markets. 
 

Types of cash transfer:

  • Cash grants: providing targeted families with money to meet their basic needs or recover their livelihoods.
  • Cash for work: cash wages in return for work on public work programmes that improve or rehabilitate services or infrastructure.
  • Vouchers: vouchers can be exchanged at certain markets or shops for goods such as food, seeds or livestock.

Cash for work supports Nepal earthquake recovery

In Nepal, in response to the 2015 earthquakes, Plan International implemented cash transfer programming designed to meet the emergency needs in the most affected districts. Over €4 million of cash and vouchers were transferred between July 2015 and March 2016 benefiting over 13,000 people. As a result of cash for work schemes, 600 public buildings were repaired or had access to them restored including schools, health centres, community centres and children’s playgrounds.

Benefits for children and communities

Through different emergency responses, our work has shown that cash programmes can increase the number of children attending school. 

During emergencies, children, especially girls, are often pulled out of school by their families to help them find food, water or look after siblings or livestock. Cash transfers mean families are less reliant on their children to meet their basic needs and they are therefore more likely to remain in school.

In addition, cash for work programmes can be used to repair damaged schools and the roads or bridges that children use to get to them. 

Cash transfers have also increased the morale of those in need and help develop successful relationships between communities and organisations that can benefit longer term relief, rehabilitation and development activities.

Cash project supports children’s education in Mali

Conflict-affected families in Mali can now afford to send their children to school thanks to a cash for work project.

Learn more

Plan International’s approach

Our global approach to cash transfer programmes focuses on supporting education, the safety of children, food, water and sanitation in communities affected by emergencies.

For example, in conflict-affected Central African Republic, we are running a multipurpose cash transfer project to achieve social cohesion  between communities by supporting temporary shelters, people’s basic needs and helping them earn money.

Our work is guided by the humanitarian principles, duty of care to conflict-affected communities, the Core Humanitarian Standards and SPHERE standards. Plan International co-leads the Global Cash & Market Working Group as part of the Global Food Security Cluster. We are also a member of the Cash Learning Partnership and are part of it's Technical Advisory Group.

We are committed to increasing our cash transfer programming work and are open to working with new donors and partners.