Home - Thematic areas - Operational Models

Operational Models

Cash transfers can be delivered to people in crises more efficiently, effectively, and with more accountability, if responding agencies work together. But we need to generate evidence around which operational models work best for collaboration in different contexts.

Why is this theme important?

In the past, cash interventions were usually implemented in full by individual agencies, often resulting in multiple agencies delivering cash simultaneously, sometimes in the same location, with different designs and different platforms. Now there is an increasing focus on the potential benefits of collaboration and different operational models to improve efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

CaLP’s working definition of an operational model is the “overall structure through which agencies work jointly…to deliver cash and voucher programming…in situation response and analysis, program design and implementation”. The State of the World's Cash Report identifies different types of operational model, including consortia and alliances, shared cash delivery mechanisms, single agency cash delivery, and integration of systems.

Scaling up cash transfer programming (CTP) offers opportunities to transform how humanitarian aid is delivered. It has implications for the roles of different agencies within various operational models, and the potential for models to link to social protection systems. It will also impact the nature of partnerships with financial service and technology providers, and how different models interact with other forms of assistance, beyond cash.

What should progress look like in this area?

In future all operational models for CTP should ideally be:

  • Designed based on evidence of what works, where and how to improve the quality of the assistance provided
  • Designed and structured to maximize the comparative advantages of different stakeholders to improve overall effectiveness
  • Adapted to local contexts and capacities
  • Integrated with and complementary to the wider humanitarian response
  • Linked with longer term assistance, e.g. social safety nets, where appropriate and feasible

This will require collective action, including:

  • Innovation in the implementation of different operational models
  • Generating and sharing evidence on the costs, benefits, results and risks
  • Developing guidance on how to apply learning about different operational models to design and decision-making processes
  • Exploring innovative funding models to ensure the core capacities required for humanitarian action (assessment, analysis, monitoring, and protection) are adequately funded alongside cash delivery
  • Coordinated investments are made in systems interoperability

An example of an operational model for the large-scale delivery of cash
assistance: The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) in Turkey

Ongoing initiatives and news

CaLP’s Operational Models Work

Since late 2016, CaLP has been coordinating a learning agenda to help answer these 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? 

The learning agenda has resulted in the development of an Analytical Framework (see How to: Tools and Guidelines) and several case studies (see Evidence and Other Resources). CaLP will continue to collate and disseminate the evidence base for operational models, as well as acting as a technical resource for agencies wishing to use the Framework to analyze their programming.

Collaborative Cash Delivery (CCD) Network

The CCD is a network of 15 NGOs with the overall objective of working together in preparedness and response to ensure quality CTP at scale. The CCD has commissioned the development of ‘Response Builder’, a platform that will focus on how to facilitate programmatic and operational interoperability between agencies. This will cover the whole of the ‘cash value chain’, including how to build an operational model and guidance on key decision points. The plan is to also incorporate common measurement, and standardizing contracting and ‘backend’ systems. Response Builder is currently in the prototype and testing phase.

Contributing to humanitarian reform through cash programming scale up

The UK Department for International Development has commissioned a study entitled Contributing to humanitarian reform through cash programming scale up. Led by Key Aid Consulting, the study will investigate the value for money (VfM) of different operational models currently being used to deliver a “whole of cash response.” This will include mapping and creation of a taxonomy of operational models, along with the development of a decision-tree for donors and analysis of factors and indicators of efficiency and effectiveness.

Cash Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning Organizational Network (CAMEALEON) 

CaLP is a partner in the CAMEALEON consortium, led by Norwegian Refugee Council, which is responsible for independent monitoring and evaluation of WFP’s Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) in Lebanon. This includes research and analysis regarding value for money and accountability in the operational model and will run through 2018-2019.

Main photo: UNHCR/Yorgos Kyvernitis