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Improving the Coordination of Humanitarian Cash Transfers - a Fool's Errand?

Master's thesis - NOHA Master's in International Humanitarian Action.

This thesis evaluates the extent to which attempts to improve the coordination of multi-purpose cash transfers (MPCTs) in humanitarian contexts can succeed. The first part of the paper focusses on outlining the existing coordination mechanisms and the reasons why improvements are necessary. The second and main focus of the paper, is on the ability of UN agencies and INGOs to undertake reform of the way they coordinate MPCTs. The thesis borrows its theoretical framework – the Bureaucratic Politics approach – from the field of International Relations, to analyse two case studies from Lebanon and Ukraine.

The study finds that in Lebanon and Ukraine reform proposals had suboptimal outcomes due to the fears among UN agencies and INGOs that the reforms would undermine their skills, mandates, access to funding, and their power. The Bureaucratic Politics does not provide a complete picture of the future of MPCT coordination. The paper argues that postcolonial theory, the ambiguous role of competition and ongoing positive trends must also be considered. Nevertheless, the
Bureaucratic Politics approach is considered a compelling framework, particularly because it emphasises the importance of the context in which IHAs operate. Overall, the study concludes that as MPCTs are increasingly implemented, coordination will gradually improve, but it remains questionable whether the necessary radical reform of the cluster system will take place.

Date: January 14th 2019

Author: Emmeline Kerkvliet

Language: english