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Cash Plus and Integrated Programming

Discover the value of Cash Plus, Complementary and Integrated Programming in humanitarian assistance. Learn how cash works alongside other approaches.

9 February 2024

Illustration of two people in a discussion, with one holding a book and gesturing towards an abstract flowchart with colorful shapes and gears, symbolizing a strategic or integrated planning process

What is cash plus?

Cash plus is when cash transfers provided to people facing crises are combined with other complementary forms of assistance. Although cash is a popular method of assistance, on its own it might not be sufficient to effectively meet a specific need or needs. Cash plus assumes cash is a core component of an intervention, working alongside other components such as training, livelihood assistance or behaviour change communications. The ‘plus’ components of an intervention might be provided by the same agency delivering cash assistance or, for example, by other humanitarian agencies, governmental institutions, or other public or private service providers.

This video talks about using cash plus in a development context (i.e. to ‘end poverty’). However a complementary approach to programming can also be taken in a humanitarian context.

What are the benefits of cash plus?

Cash plus can enhance the overall impact of an intervention by addressing a wider range of needs. Some research shows that integrating cash transfers with other forms of assistance such as health insurance, livelihood training, or links to sexual and reproductive health services, can be beneficial both for individuals and their households.

What is complementary programming?

Complementary programming is considered a neutral alternative to cash plus; it involves consideration of a range of modalities to select the most effective combination to address a humanitarian need or needs, where cash may or may not be the central component.

The CALP Network recommends using the language and approach of ‘complementary programming’ in favour of ‘cash plus’.

CALP’s Glossary of CVA Terminology has more details.

What is integrated programming?

Integrated programming aims to holistically address the needs of people affected by crises by combining different types of humanitarian support and approaches.

The traditional sectoral (e.g., food, shelter, education, health) approach to aid has often meant that needs assessment, analysis and intervention design take place within sectoral silos. Integrated programming takes a cross-sectoral, holistic approach to assessing needs and planning responses with the aim of more effectively meeting needs and making better use of available resources.

The positive impacts of cash transfers can be limited by external factors, such as the availability of quality health and education services, access to clean water, or a thriving local economy. By taking an integrated programming approach, the impacts of Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) can be deepened.

What is the difference between integrated programming, complementary programming and cash plus?

Integrated programming is a broader term than cash plus or complementary programming.

Integrated programming looks at the wider response to a humanitarian crisis, or at least an organisation-wide approach, reaching across different types of humanitarian support and approaches.

Complementary programming or cash plus generally refers to a single intervention or programme (with multiple components or types of aid) to achieve specific outcomes.

Examples of Cash Plus or complementary programming

  • Cash transfers can be used to pay local people to clear and repair the lands (cash for work) and tools and seeds can be distributed (in-kind aid) to support farmers at the start of the planting season.
  • Households receive Cash transfers to meet their basic needs, along with vouchers that can only be exchanged for fresh food items, together with a nutritional educational programme.
  • Shelter and services (in-kind), as well as cash transfers are provided to displaced people to help to meet their immediate basic needs. Alongside this some households are provided with cash grants to help them establish livelihoods.
  • Cash transfers (or vouchers) are provided along with information or behaviour change communication, such as cooking demonstrations and/or nutrition education, to help encourage better dietary diversity and nutrition security.
  • Cash transfer recipients receive vocational training and in-kind support (equipment) in a livelihood intervention.
  • A programme links cash recipients to relevant support services provided by other entities (governmental or non-governmental). This might for example include psychosocial support, such as home visits by social workers.

Case studies

In Tanzania a Cash Plus programme successfully reduced out of school adolescent girls and young women’s exposure to HIV, reliance on male partners, and enhanced their entrepreneurial success. The Dreams project, implemented by an NGO in 2017-2018 by the Sauti project, provided cash transfers, access to savings groups and financial education as part of a wider mentoring and a behaviour change curriculum. Following involvement in the project, adolescent girls and women were more able to meet their basic needs, were less likely to engage in exploitative transactional sex, were less reliant on male partners, and some were able to start businesses.

In Turkey, a programme run by the Turkish Government, the Turkish Red Crescent, and UNICEF has been used to encourage enrolment and improve school attendance of children in refugee families. Cash was distributed to families on condition that their children attended school (conditional cash transfers). A cash plus component was included in the programme design, consisting of child protection focused outreach and referrals system. The evaluation showed a positive correlation between child protection visits and increased school attendance.

This study (summarised below), explored whether cash and voucher assistance could improve the impacts of gender based violence interventions in Ecuador and Columbia.

Find out more about cash and voucher assistance on Cash 101.