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Cash Transfer Programming and Persons of Concern

This article sheds light on opportunities presented by CTP  to face the challenges posed by  displacement, with a specific focus on Asia. CaLP’s briefing note highlights evolving practices in this area and key recommendations for practitioners working with CTP and POC to enhance the assessment, design, delivery and monitoring of CTP in POC contexts in Asia and beyond. 


As of June 2016, an unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18[1]. Asia is the third largest hosted region with 14%2 and is home to 7.7 million Persons of Concerns (POC)[2]. POC -including asylum seekers, refugees, stateless persons, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees - are one of the most vulnerable groups in the world. They are forcibly displaced by persecution, conflict, natural disasters and climate change.

Source: UNHCR

Their available protection space is fragile, unpredictable and challenged by a lack of formal legal recognition and rights, access to basic services such as education and healthcare, and adequate opportunities for work. Only 12 out of 32 countries in Asia[3] are signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Optional Protocol.

Why use Cash Transfer Programming in Persons of Concern Contexts?

The uptake of Cash Transfer Programming (CTP) in large-scale humanitarian responses and protracted crises has significantly increased in the last few years. Critically, the 2016 UN Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity calls for a commitment to “use cash-based programming as the preferred and default method of support”[4]. CTP presents an opportunity to address the diversity of POC contexts and protracted needs; to support livelihoods and resilience; and to increase the potential for social cohesion through engagement in local economies and communities. 


CTP & Persons of Concern – CaLP workshop & briefing note

The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) Asia conducted a Cash Transfer Programming and Persons of Concern Workshop in Bangkok, Thailand on 14-15 March 2016, to increase knowledge and understanding of CTP for those providing assistance in humanitarian contexts for POC. The workshop brought together stakeholders from across Asia, including UN agencies, international and national NGOs, and community-based organisations. The briefing note aims to illustrate evolving practices for providing essential assistance to the most vulnerable POC and can be accessed through the CaLP Asia 2016 Cash Transfer Programming and Persons of Concern Workshop webpage.  

Findings and Recommendations

The table below summarises key lessons outlined in the briefing note. Recommendations on CTP & POC underscore CaLP’s 2016-2020 strategy.

  • Analyse the POC context -assessing the main factors that will influence the feasibility and appropriateness of CTP:
    • Legal and policy framework in operation  
    • Stage of displacement 
    • Status and profile of POC Environment, i.e. camp and non-camp setting
  • Contextualise the intervention - evaluating  the following, primary determinants and responses options for each POC context: 
    • Government Beneficiary and host community acceptance 
    • Safe access to functional markets
    • Access to appropriate cash-delivery mechanisms Institutional capacity 
  • Support advocacy through evidence and exchanges – building on contextual evidence of the specific benefits of CTP and learning from other successful examples of CTP-related advocacy for POC, and engaging actors beyond the government such as the private sector and the media to influence local authorities and communities.
  • Build social cohesion with the host community – by integrating POC representation and participation, fostering understanding with local authorities, and supporting practices for the betterment of the community as a whole.
  • Listen to beneficiaries – engaging community-based approaches for management and targeting to allow POC to participate in decisions that impact their lives.
  • Understand what level of market analysis is required – identifying markets specific to POC such as legal, regulatory, rental, labour, education and healthcare markets.
  • Evaluate suitable methods for cash delivery – identifying alternative methods to overcome barriers of access, such as secondary documentation and identification systems through INGOs/NGOs as well as using intermediaries.
  • Consider specific protection issues and mitigation measures – utilising guidance like the ERC Protection Risks and Benefits Analysis Tool, which has recommendations for programme design and monitoring around protection risks such as safety and dignity; access; data protection and beneficiary privacy; individuals with specific needs or risks; social relations; household and community dynamics; fraud and diversion ; and market impact and access
  • Strengthen the capacity of humanitarian actors, and localize capacity efforts – building internal capacity in relation to POC contexts, which can be supported by the Organisational Capacity Assessment Tool (OCAT)[5], which helps enable agencies to assess their CTP capacity and provides recommendations for mainstreaming CTP into institutional systems and procedures.
  • Leverage the power of networks and solidarity – strengthening information sharing and coordination with existing POC networks and the CTP community of practice.

This article was written by Kanvara Suchitta CaLP's Asia Administration and Communications Officer. 

[1] UNHCR. (2016). Figures at a Glance. 

[2] UNHCR. (2016). Asia and the Pacific.

[3] Asia countries that have ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention are Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste and Turkmenistan. Source UNHCR

[4] UN. (2016) One Humanity: Shared Responsibility, Report for the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit. 

[5] The Organisational Capacity Assessment Tool (OCAT) comprises a User Guide, Tool Worksheets for use in scoring and graphic results respectively, and a Recommendations Matrix. Assessment across six categories of organizational capacity, each with their own criteria. Scoring each criterion allows an organization to determine gaps and make recommendations for building the required capacity. (CaLP, n.d.).

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