Cash Transfers

People may lose their homes or their livelihoods. Adeso pioneered a form of aid that ensures the one thing they never lose is their dignity.

Cash intervention is one of Adeso’s flagship approaches to aid and development work. Why? Because we believe cash offers several advantages over other forms of aid. It is cost effective, often leads to a better use of resources, and has a positive effect on local economies. More importantly, cash is a flexible resource that empowers those in poverty by allowing them to prioritize their own needs. In this way, it is a much more dignified and respectful form of aid  – two qualities that define everything we do.


Cash as a humanitarian response

The use of cash transfers is playing a greater role in humanitarian responses. Many NGOs, the Red Cross and UN agencies have all used cash transfers, some large-scale, in emergency contexts. This began with the 2004 tsunami response, which led to a rapid expansion and acceptance of cash programs. They have been used to respond to chronic and emergency needs in East Africa for more than 10 years, and have been supported by a range of donors. Emergency-affected populations have been shown to use cash transfers to buy food, whilst a cash transfer of sufficient size can support nutrition security. Cash transfers also ensure access to essential non-food goods and services; support the purchase of water for human consumption; and help with costs for health care like transport and medicines.


Cash transfer training courses

For over ten years, Adeso has been delivering trainings internally and externally to humanitarian actors with great success. Adeso brings a decade of practical cash programming knowledge from its programs in Somalia, South Sudan and Northern Kenya. Through its flagship ‘Cash Response Capacity Building’ project, Adeso has trained over 350 aid workers across eight countries in Africa through training approaches that are firmly rooted in our experiences implementing cash based programs in complex humanitarian crises. While we do not have any trainings scheduled for the near future, the following guidelines and manuals are available for download:

How cash works

There is no blueprint for cash interventions. Adeso always evaluates a certain context to ensure that markets are operating and that money transfer systems are in place. We also carefully analyze the risk, and ensure cash is the most appropriate way to help people meet their needs. There are also many different kinds of cash transfers, including both conditional and unconditional. A ‘condition’ may be contributing labor to a community micro-project, taking your child to get vaccinated, or using the money to buy particular items like livestock or food. This ensures that the root causes of an emergency are addressed, whilst providing immediate relief to households in need. Cash grants are also given in different sizes. Both the type of cash transfer and the size of cash grant are designed in response to the needs of each situation.

Cash – the key issues

Cash transfers have slowly become a tool of choice for humanitarian agencies. They represent a loss of control for the agency, but increased empowerment for the beneficiary. Despite the evidence in favor of cash transfers, they are still new to many people and continue to pose worrying questions. A careful look at the issues, however, can boost understanding of cash transfers and increase their acceptability.
Cash misuse: Exactly how people spend their cash grants relates to targeting. If you target the most vulnerable individuals, such as women, widows, the elderly, and marginalized minorities, they will use the money to buy food and to meet their most basic needs. This has shown to be true through external program evaluations. Adeso uses its own targeting system – Inclusive Community-Based Targeting – that uses various cross-referencing methods. As an example, local committees with women and minority representatives are asked to vet beneficiary lists.
Effective distribution: There are an increasing number of different ways to deliver cash transfers. Cash can be delivered through remittance systems like the Hawala in Somalia, through mobile phones, local traders and banks. Agencies are constantly coming up with creative and cost-effective new ways to deliver cash transfers.
Market inflation: Evidence to date has consistently shown that cash transfers have no inflationary effect on local markets. The amount of cash given to a household is small compared to the size of the local economy, though any agency delivering cash grants should monitor local markets to ensure that inflation does not occur.

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Reports and Studies