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This update was circulated to our policy contacts on 17 April 2018. If you would like to receive these updates via email, please contact

17 April 2018

We’ve heard from many of you that there is so much going on in cash policy at the moment, and so many initiatives and workstreams under way, that you find it impossible to keep on top of all of them, or to know where to invest your time and energy to influence issues that matter to you and to your organisation. This roundup is an attempt to summarise the big issues of the moment as we see them, and to highlight opportunities to engage with and influence major workstreams. It is not intended to be comprehensive, but to identify what we judge to be the opportunities to focus on now. This will be a collective effort – if you have updates or news to share, if there are events or issues we’ve missed, or if there’s anything else you’d like to see covered in these updates, please let us know.

Covered in this edition:

Cash Coordination

The need to ensure more effective, inclusive and predictable coordination of cash transfer programming which is integrated into existing systems was one of the key issues highlighted in the State of the World’s Cash report for priority action. There’s been some significant progress on this area over the last few months, thanks to the collective efforts of donors, the Global Clusters, Cash Working Groups and others.

In late 2017, the Global Cluster Coordination Group agreed, building on recommendations including the World Bank’s Strategic Note: Cash Transfers in Humanitarian Contexts and the GPPi White Paper on Cash Coordination, that ensuring effective cash coordination across the humanitarian response sector/ system?  should be the responsibility of the Inter-Cluster or Inter-Sector Coordination group, in settings where these exist. This is reflected in the updated standard Terms of Reference for Inter-Cluster Coordination Groups, which specify that groups have the responsibility for “identifying and facilitating the coordination of multisectoral or joint programming such as multisectoral or multipurpose cash transfers, and ensuring strategic and streamlined cash coordination throughout the response.” The document recommends that Cash Working Groups are formalized as sub-groups of the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group.

To clarify what this means in practice, OCHA and the Global Clusters are developing model Terms of Reference for Cash Working Groups, which will outline what the groups are responsible for delivering, who should be involved and the resources available to support this. These will need to be adapted for each context to meet the specific needs, and there will be significant scope for cluster members and existing cash working groups to engage as these are developed.

The CALP Network and CashCap are supporting the Global Clusters to develop Cash Coordination Guidance for cluster coordinators. The guidance aims to equip cluster coordinators to build a conducive environment for cash transfer programming and to support coordination within and across clusters to ensure that all assistance modalities – cash, voucher, and in-kind – are symmetrically sustained and coordinated. The guidance aims to identify who – clusters, inter-cluster, cash working group, Humanitarian Country Team – is responsible for which aspects of strategic and technical cash coordination. The guidance builds on 30 key informant interviews with cluster coordinators and cash actors, and is being steered by a task team composed of cluster representatives, OCHA, CashCap and the CALP Network. A draft will be reviewed in early May, and available for wider dissemination in June.

Finally, a group of donors wrote to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) in March to flag their concerns with the lack of predictability around cash coordination.  They drew attention to a number of pieces of research (in particular the World Bank and GPPi studies cited above) and have urged the IASC to take a decision on where responsibility for cash coordination sits in the humanitarian architecture. The IASC plan to discuss this request in the coming weeks. UN agencies and NGO networks represented on the IASC are preparing for this discussion and we’d encourage all members to contribute to this process.

What does this change? As many of you are aware, the debate over who is responsible for the coordination of cash transfer programming in crisis, what cash coordination should deliver and with what resources has been intense over the last few years. The GCCG and possible IASC decisions should provide greater predictability and accountability over where cash coordination responsibility sits (at least in responses where an Inter-Cluster Coordination Group exists). Cash coordination guidance and ToRs should help to clarify what this responsibility covers and what cash coordination should deliver, including tools for ensuring quality. This represents huge progress. However, further engagement is needed to ensure this all adds up to high-quality and predictable cash coordination which delivers what is needed to improve the delivery of CTP across the board.

Towards joint donor principles on CTP

The Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) Initiative has committed to improve donor coordination around cash transfer programming. In order to make progress on this UNHCR, WFP, Germany and Norway organised a joint donor mission to Jordan and Lebanon in February, which the CALP Network joined and helped to facilitate. The mission was intended to build a shared analysis of challenges and opportunities for cash transfer programming in the region. The donors’ key conclusions from the mission are available here.

One key takeaway was the need to improve donor coordination around cash transfer programming, and an initiative to explore joint donor principles to communicate shared objectives and aspirations. These will be discussed at an upcoming GHD meeting in May. To prepare for this meeting we’d like you to have your say on what matters for you and your organisation on donor approaches to CTP. Please let us know what you see as priority areas for improved donor coordination and where additional clarity would be useful. We’ll feed the results into the GHD discussions to ensure your concerns and priorities are taken into account.

US policy developments

USAID announced the merger of the Office of Food for Peace (FFP) and Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) into the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance in April, among other re-structuring efforts. Groundwork for the merger was laid in the previous administration, driven in part by the growth of CTP which has challenged the offices’ sector-based mandates. FFP and OFDA staff are already co-located and have been conducting joint planning, however grant management processes remain distinct. As a result, proposing multi-purpose cash programmes which includes food security requires significantly more time for planning between the offices.

In Congress, the massive Farm Bill is up for debate in Congress this year and at stake is the opportunity to unlock more of the Title II food commodity funds ($1.6 billion was allocated in FY2017) to support other modalities, including cash and vouchers. A Senate bill proposes to allow 75% of Title II funds to be spent on non-commodity modalities, such as cash and vouchers and local and regional procurement. One threat to the House version of the Farm Bill comes from disagreement in the House of Representative over the application of conditionalities on domestic food stamp programs. CALP members are actively seized with ensuring maximum flexibility in resources and continue to raise awareness of the benefits of CTP in congressional hearings and briefings.

State of the World’s Cash

Following the February publication of the State of the World’s Cash Report, the CALP Network have organised lively and well-attended discussions of the issues raised in the report in DavosLondon, Dakar, Nairobi, Geneva, Baltimore, Washington DC and Brussels. We’ve had a fantastic response, with a broad recognition that the report has contributed to building a shared understanding of the key issues, and highlighting the significant progress we’ve made as well as the challenges which remain to be tackled together.

Speakers representing host governments, donors, UN agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, NGOs and academia have discussed the report’s key findings on event panels, and fielded questions from cash practitioners across the system. More than 700 people have participated in these discussions, either in person or via web link. Topics which came up in multiple discussions included:

  • Advocacy for a renewed focus on outcomes, and on understanding and prioritising the experience from recipients’ perspectives
  • Links between cash and social protection systems – what does “where appropriate” mean?
  • Questions of where and how we should be building cash capacity, and of implications of scaling up cash for the changing roles of cash actors
  • Tensions and synergies between cash and localisation
  • The relationship between donors, facilitators and implementing partners – who gets “credit” and who has influence over programming decisions?
  • What do recent developments mean for cash coordination in practice?
  • How can donors best incentivise reform and drive greater efficiency and effectiveness… while still being good donors?
  • How can we ensure adequate data protection in a world of rapidly-evolving threats and limited data management capacity in humanitarian organisations, while ensuring that data is shared in a way that supports better programming and delivery?

Relaunching the Global Cash Policy Network

The CALP Network’s Technical Advisory Team will meet this week to discuss, among other issues, the need for a Global Cash Policy Network to complement to work of the TAG by linking members’ policy focal points together to discuss and make progress on key policy issues, as well as supporting members to keep track of relevant policy developments and identify opportunities for engagement. We’ll keep you updated on their conclusions, and seek other opportunities to gather members’ views on this. Stay tuned!

We hear you, policy people

Huge thanks to those of you who participated in the CALP Network’s perception survey to tell us how you think we’re doing on a range of issues. A fuller analysis will be coming your way, but here are a few key points on our policy work in particular:

  • 83% of you agree “a great deal” or “a lot” that the CALP Network has made a significant contribution to advancing CTP policy issues over the last year. Thank you, and let’s try to keep up the good work together.
  • 53% you agree “a great deal” or “a lot” that the CALP Network has advanced global policy on CTP coordination over the last year. Let’s work together to see what more we can do here.
  • Many of you appreciated in particular the roles of the state of the World’s Cash Report and the Global Cash Forum in advancing policy discussions. You also value the CALP Network’s convening role and our ability to bring people together on key issues in a neutral capacity. Our work on gender was another issue you particularly appreciated.
  • Many of you would like to see the CALP Network using this convening role more, bringing people together to tackle the toughest and most intractable cash policy issues. You’d like us to play more of a role in making policy discussions and processes more inclusive, ensuring broad consultations on the important issues and flagging opportunities to engage, including upcoming events and consultations.
  • You’d like us to ensure that global policy discussions are rooted in field experience and that local actors in particular have their voices heard. You’d also like us to do more to link humanitarian CTP discussions with longer term thinking, the humanitarian-development nexus and social protection discussions.

Thank you for this valuable feedback, which we take very seriously. I hope you will see us making progress on some of the key issues you’ve identified over the coming months. If you don’t see progress, don’t hesitate to hold us to account!

Looking ahead

Global Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) Initiative Cash Workshop – May 4, Geneva

What will be discussed? Progress on GHD cash workstream objectives; cash coordination; efficiency and effectiveness; Value for money indicators; towards shared donor principles on CTP

Who’s going? Open to all donors working on or interested in cash transfer programming.

How can I influence this? The GHD have committed to improve donor coordination around CTP. Please get in touch to let us know what you see as priority areas for improved donor coordination and where additional clarity would be useful. We’ll feed the results into the GHD discussions to ensure your concerns are being addressed.

Grand Bargain Cash Workshop – June 4-5, Rome

What will be discussed? The agenda is still being defined, but will look at how the GB cash workstream can support progress in the delivery of GB cash commitments, update on progress and identify remaining challenges and possible solutions.

Who’s going? Grand Bargain signatories and specialist organisations.

How can I influence this? As the agenda is developed we’ll bring members together to consider how to engage most effectively and how best to support progress on the key issues.