Evidence and practice review: Cash transfers in contexts of acute food insecurity
Research finds cash and voucher assistance provides more dignity and choice than food distribution in supporting acutely food insecure people.
Cash and voucher transfers support people affected by disasters and conflicts to meet their basic needs such as food and shelter, and respond to medium and long term needs like generating an income through wage or self-employment.
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.
In Nepal, in response to the 2015 earthquakes, Plan International implemented cash 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.
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.
These programmes 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.
Conflict-affected families in Mali can now afford to send their children to school thanks to a cash for work project.
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 this work and are open to working with new donors and partners.