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Operational delivery of CTP

Why is this theme important?

The use of cash transfer programming (CTP) does not yet come close in scale to in-kind assistance. Delivering quality CTP at scale requires significant investment in operational capacity of organisations, and in innovative operational models to maximise its potential. This is in line with Global Objective #3 of the Global Framework for Action: Build sufficient capacity for CTP, and #6: Strengthen the evidence base and invest in innovation. 

Investment in quality operational deliver of CTP can broadly be broken down into the following areas: Investment in operational and support staff functions; investment in operational preparedness; and investment in new operational models.

Investment in operational and support staff functions

Effective CTP delivery requires coordination across functions, throughout the project cycle. To date, guidance around CTP has focused predominantly on programmatic design and implementation. However, there is an increasing recognition of the change in skillsets and competences required to deliver cash effectively and securely. The CaLP Guidance Note for Operational and Support Staff involved in Cash Transfer Programming. It provides step-by-step guidance to preparing, planning implementing and monitoring a cash programme from the perspective of finance, logistics, security and ICT roles.

Photo credit: Olav A. Saltbones / Røde Kors / IFRC

Investment in operational preparedness

Despite the growing use of CTP in emergencies most agencies lack CTP-specific elements in their contingency planning documents. Response times could be significantly improved if humanitarian actors collaborated to address these gaps. Preparedness investments for CTP can be categorised as follows:

  • Organisational preparedness – e.g. developing internal policies, procedures, capacities and systems that enable the systematic consideration of CTP – see CaLP’s institutional capacity building page
  • Programmatic preparedness – e.g. baseline analysis of needs and markets, Pre-positioning appropriate materials (such as pre-printed vouchers or smart cards) to facilitate rapid scale up.
  • Data preparedness – e.g. analysis of regulatory and ICT frameworks; establishing digital identity requirements; inter-agency databases
  • Partnership preparedness – e.g. Assessing delivery mechanisms and establishing pre-agreements;

These preparedness activities all require coordination across functions. They also require collaboration between organisations, which is currently limited by the lack of inter-operability and common operational standards between organisations, including on digital identity and data standards.

Investment in new operational models

Many organisations are investing heavily in building the capacity needed to deliver CTP. Given the potential of CTP to contribute to an efficient, effective and accountable response, donors and operational agencies have the opportunity – and obligation – to work together to maximise these gains.

However, there is currently substantial duplication of activities and costs in humanitarian responses, particularly for CTP, for instance in the parallel management structures created by different agencies delivering similar (or overlapping) assistance to the same beneficiaries. Accordingly, to maximise the comparative advantages of different actors.

Multiple models are being proposed as a solution to achieving scale and quality in CTP, all of which require collaboration in some form. Stronger evidence is needed about the costs and benefits to different actors of different models in different contexts. This evidence base should also document how local organisations and national mechanisms can be more effectively leveraged. CaLP is leading a learning agenda with the aim of developing guidance to support donors and operational agencies to assess the suitability of different operational models for large-scale CTP, by context. This learning agenda aims to answer three related questions: 1. What operational models are available to agencies implementing CTP?  2. How do different models improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of CTP in different contexts? 3. Which operational models are most appropriate in which contexts? 

What should progress look like in this area?

By 2020, if the potential investments in operational delivery have been maximised, this should mean that:

  • Functions within and across organisations collaborate effectively and systematically to deliver accountable CTP
  • Donors have significantly invested in institutional and local preparedness to scale up the use of cash transfer programming. This includes funding multi-year preparedness approaches for national led response systems to implement cash at scale
  • CTP has been mainstreamed in preparedness efforts within UN agencies, NGOs, national actors and governments. These preparedness efforts enable coordinated CTP, including linkages with social protection where appropriate.
  • Coordinated investments have been made in system interoperability for cash transfer programming
  • Operational models for CTP are designed based on evidence, and adapted to context and the comparative advantages of different actors, systematically considering local capacity