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New technologies in cash transfer programming and humanitarian assistance

This study was commissioned by the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) in 2011, to review the current use of new technology in humanitarian cash and voucher programming and the broader implications for humanitarian practice. The research was undertaken to explore (i) preconditions for the use of technological mechanisms identified; (ii) user-friendliness of the technology for the recipient and for the agency; (iii) issues concerning accountability; and (iv) potential for wider impacts.

The research discusses in detail three types of technology currently being used in aid programming: electronic payment systems, the use of mobile phones for text and voice communication, and digital data gathering tools. For each, the study outlines current use, examines benefits experienced and issues faced by the recipient and the agency and highlights key lessons learned. The study also looks briefly at new emerging uses of technology
in aid programming including recipient management and crisis mapping. The report then looks at the potential benefits and risks of using new technologies in the cross-cutting areas of cost-effectiveness and accountability.

The research examines the constraints to the uptake of these technologies in humanitarian programming, and has identified barriers to wider adoption of new technology that can be broadly grouped under seven themes: technological, financial, institutional, operational, attitudinal, political and legislative.


Finally, the report outlines suggested actions to move towards more systematic adoption of effective and accountable technological solutions in humanitarian aid and concludes by making recommendations for humanitarian actors in differing technological environments.

There is also an Executive Summary version of the report available.

Date: February 24th 2012

Author: Smith, G; MacAuslan, I; Butters, S; and Trommé, M; for the CaLP

Language: English