Cash tranfers, food security and resilience in fragile contexts
This paper (PDF) by the German Development Institute provides an overview of the evidence on the impact of cash-based interventions (CBIs) in fragile contexts on the immediate, underlying and basic causes of food and nutrition security. The paper stresses the high potential of CBIs for humanitarian and transitional assistance. Giving beneficiaries cash means giving them an opportunity to decide what they need most. In particular, given their great adaptability to contexts and needs as well as their ability to link short and long-term outcomes, it is clear that CBIs should form part of every response analysis. This holds despite challenges such as the need for markets, food being available for purchasing and the difficulty of influencing the exact livelihood sector on which beneficiaries spend the cash. CBIS are essentially a multi-sectoral approach, thus difficult to include in relatively sector-driven environment of crisis and development interventions. The focus in the report is on cash-for-work (CfW) interventions, that provides short-term, immediate incomes. It is however difficult to identify their longer-term effects. Furthermore, they exclude labour-constrained households, such as single, disabled or elderly people. Thus, a very rigid political focus on a specific tool is not necessarily the best option. A greater degree of openess to other CBIs is desirable to adjust to local contexts. Linking actors between and within organisation could institutionalise learning and increase the efficiency of interventions and the transparency of success factors. Thus, while there is ample evidence that CBIs can work in protracted crises, there are also situations in which they are not the best choice. Openness to cash transfers under the condition of performing public works could translate into an openness to unconditional transfers.