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Cash Transfer Programming and Risk

To ensure cash transfer programming (CTP) is routinely considered by humanitarian actors when designing an intervention, we must address the perceptions and myths that it is a riskier form of response than others.

Why is this theme important?

One of the main reasons why humanitarian actors are not routinely considering cash (Objective #2 of the Global Framework for Action) is because of perceptions of risks. This concern is linked to the growing emphasis from donors on anti-terrorism and money laundering, and shrinking budgets for humanitarian assistance.

This was a key finding from CaLP’s State of the World’s Cash Report, which also noted that donors may tolerate the diversion of a small amount of in-kind aid, but can be much more sensitive about diversions of cash. This sensitivity has been passed from donors to other humanitarian agencies. The issue is particularly sensitive in conflict environments, where armed groups pose a threat and it is difficult for humanitarian actors to gain access to affected communities and oversight of the response.

What should progress look like in this area?

For CTP to be routinely considered, success will mean that:

  • Myths around CTP are debunked and the discourse, attitudes and behaviour of humanitarian actors around the risks of CTP will change
  • CTP is systematically and equally considered, based on evidence of actual risks across modalities
  • Regulatory barriers, such as the anti-terrorism and de-risking agendas of donors do not prevent the systematic consideration of cash.
  • Risk is tackled through collaboration between operational humanitarian actors, governments, donors, and financial institutions.
  • Operational staff have the capacity and practical tools to identify and mitigate risks.

To work towards these goals means tackling risk along the Project Cycle, based on the following questions:

  • Situation Analysis: How are CTP-specific risks perceived?
  • Response Analysis: How do CTP-specific risks influence decision-making?
  • Programme Design: What mitigation measures already exist?
  • Implementation: How can programmes and mitigation measures adapt over time?
  • Monitoring & Evaluation: How effective are mitigation measures and what is their impact?

Ongoing initiatives and news

A variety of organisations are currently working on CTP and risk. CaLP is working to identify synergies among actors, avoid duplication, and define joint priorities that can be better addressed collectively. Together with WFP, CaLP is co-leading the risk priority within the Grand Bargain workstream on cash.

For further information, please contact Stefan Bumbacher (sbumbacher@cashlearning.org). 

Header image: Habibatou Gologo/Oxfam