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Cash coordination

All forms of humanitarian assistance need to be coordinated to make the best use of resources and avoid duplicating efforts. But with multipurpose cash disrupting traditional divisions of responsibility in the humanitarian sector, disagreements remain around how cash transfer programming should be coordinated.

Why is this theme important?

Cash transfer programming, as part of overall humanitarian assistance, needs to be well coordinated to make sure that the resources we have are used effectively to save lives and prevent suffering. Strong coordination will prevent gaps and overlaps in responses and ensure our work complements other types of assistance. But CaLP’s State of the World’s Cash report found that cash coordination is seen as weak and ad hoc, and that this is having serious operational impact.

A range of Cash Working Groups and other cash coordination mechanisms exist, with different approaches to leadership, roles and responsibilities, and ways of working with existing humanitarian systems and governments. Learning and good practice is being shared effectively between Cash Working Groups at the national and regional level, but some Cash Working Group leads have requested more support and structure from the global level.

There are global efforts to clarify where cash coordination sits, what it delivers and who is accountable. But disagreements remain around the role of cash coordination, especially in relation to multipurpose cash.

What should progress in this area look like?

Donors, NGOs and Cash Working Group leads have called for clarity on three key issues surrounding cash coordination:

  1. Who should be accountable for ensuring effective cash coordination,
  2. What the function and mandate of Cash Working Groups should be, including in relation to multipurpose cash,
  3. How the coordination of cash should be resourced.

We urgently need to build on what works and provide clarity at the global level on the questions above, whilst adapting to different contexts. Clear decisions based on operational needs rather than agency politics are long overdue.

Current initiatives

CaLP aims to contribute to progress on this issue on three levels:

  • Providing technical support, hosting learning events and facilitating peer-to-peer exchange to support Cash Working Groups at the regional level.
  • Contributing to practical solutions for cash coordination at the global level, including support to the development of cash coordination guidance by the Global Cluster Coordination Group (see below) and through co-chairmanship of the Geneva-Based Cash Working Group.
  • Convening and facilitating evidence-based and action-oriented discussion on the key issues, highlighting critical decision points and opportunities for progress. This includes recent work with the Good Humanitarian Donorship Group and with the Collaborative Cash Delivery Network (CCD) and Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) NGO networks to advocate for an Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) decision on key issues. CaLP members can engage in this through CaLP’s Global Cash Policy Network.

Other initiatives

The Global Cluster Coordination Group’s cash task team are developing: (i) cash coordination guidance for cluster coordinators; (ii) models terms of reference for Cash Working Groups; (iii) a mapping of Cash Working Groups with recommendations.

Some GHD donors wrote a joint letter to the IASC stressing the need for a decision on responsibility for cash coordination. To prepare for this discussion a group of NGOs developed and published a common position.