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Cash Coordination 2021 – LIVE timeline

The latest updates on cash coordination as they unfold.


With no clear responsibility or accountability for cash coordination withinCash Coordination the humanitarian architecture, it is undertaken on an ad hoc basis. 

The way that cash is coordinated is a long-standing issue within humanitarian response, with actors ranging from the donors, NGOs, UN, and think tanks calling for a resolution since 2015.  

Organisations involved in humanitarian cash have recently ramped up its efforts to seek predictable and accountable coordination arrangements for humanitarian cash. Read the timeline for the latest updates.

Why is cash coordination an issue?

Humanitarian cash and voucher assistance (CVA) has grown significantly in recent years; it is estimated that in 2020CVA made up almost 20% of total international humanitarian spendingCoordination systems have been slow to adapt to this change and this is impeding the humanitarian community’s ability to respond effectively. Cash, in particular, is cross-sectoral by nature and its placement in the humanitarian coordination architecture, and the identification of a predictable entity responsible for cash coordination, has been a serious, unresolved challenge that has only grown over the years.

With no clear responsibility or accountability for cash coordination within the humanitarian architecture, it is undertaken on an ad hoc basis. The leadership, terms of reference and reporting structures of cash working groups (CWGs) vary significantly by context.  

Global initiatives such as CashCap have grown to support response-level CWGs. In addition, guidance in the 2021 RC/HC Handbook, confirms linkage between the CWG and the inter cluster coordination groups (ICCG). These have been steps in the right direction. However, the key questions around leadership, predictability and accountability remain unanswered. As highlighted in the CALP Network’s State of the World’s Cash 2020 report, the ODI’s 2020 Grand Bargain annual independent report and many others, this lack of clear responsibility and accountability for predictable cash coordination has multiple negative consequences –with non-standardized, siloed and unpredictable coordination impacting the quality and timeliness of humanitarian response. 

What’s at stake?

Inclusion of a clearly defined, predictable and accountable cash coordination mechanism into the humanitarian architecture is critical for the system to remain fit for purpose. Many in the humanitarian community have recognized the shortcomings of ad hoc cash coordination arrangements and demanded action over the years including, most recently, a Call for Action signed by the leaders of 95 organisationsDecisions about cash coordination will impact the efficiency and effectiveness of CVA interventions; how quickly affected populations can be reached; and how we leverage the capacities of stakeholders in the CVA ecosystemIt is, therefore, essential that the decision-making is driven by the resulting outcomes for affected populations, rather than by institutional interests.   

LIVE Timeline

22 Nov 2021: Statement from the Eminent Person’s Office: Principals from the agencies participating in the caucus (the US government, ECHO, WFP, OCHA, UNHCR, UNICEF, IFRC, ICVA, A4EP and the CCD) as well as observers (CaLP, Cashcap and the World Bank) attended the first high-level strategic meeting on cash coordination, convened and facilitated by Jan Egeland in his role as Eminent Person.

Participants to the meeting expressed support for the process and recognised the need to find a timely solution that can provide a system for accountable and predictable cash coordination. Several stakeholders stressed the importance of better defining the expected functions of cash coordination – overall, there was a call to define the *what* before moving ahead to discussions around the *who* and the *how*. There was however broad agreement on the *why*.

Participants also reiterated support for an inclusive and transparent process. Some of the themes that were mentioned and that the process will further unpack are: the role of local actors and affected people, so as to build an inclusive and representative system; the perceived dichotomy between operational and strategic coordination, and the need to better define the scope of work of the caucus with regards to this issue; issues of resourcing and leadership of the coordination system.

Senior technical representatives of this group will meet first on 29 November for a preparatory meeting, then convene for a two-day workshop that will take place on 7 and 8 December. It was agreed that the outcome of the workshop will be then transmitted back to the Principals, to endorse the recommendations, unlock any remaining areas of disagreement and officially share with the IASC for adoption.

25 Oct 2021: The CALP Network received the proposed strategy for the Cash Coordination Caucus from the office of Jan Egeland, the Grand Bargain 2.0 Eminent Person. It proposes three phases of the caucus to run into early 2022. Participants of the caucus will include Principals and senior technical staff of OCHA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and 3 NGO representatives. ECHO and USAID will act as representatives of the Donor Cash Forum, and the CALP Network and CashCap for their technical expertise and support. The CALP Network will now be holding consultations with the wider community to feed into this process.

22 Oct 2021: the CALP Network and USAID received a response to the Call to Action sent to the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, expressing his support to resolve the issue. He recognised the importance of the IASC having a coherent and consistent approach across all humanitarian operations and one that best supports the choices and preferences of affected population. He took particular note of the large and varied number of partners that have supported the request for transparent and inclusive decision-making around cash and that greater clarity on cash coordination could improve overall humanitarian response. He will ensure proposals coming out of the cash coordination caucus are promptly considered by the IASC. 

17 Sep 2021: The Grand Bargain Secretariat shares the criteria for establishing Grand Bargain 2.0 caucuses, as well as FAQs.

15 Sep 2021: Senior leaders gathered to discuss progress since the submission of the Call for Action, consider the proposed formation of a cash caucus and hear about some coordination options.  Donors made their views clear and 99% of meeting attendees polled wanted their organisation to continue engaging with the process.

Sep 2021: USAID and the CALP Network, as co-facilitators of the Tackling Political Blockages sub-workstream within the Grand Bargain, are convening a meeting of senior leaders to discuss the development of a future-ready cash coordination architecture. 

Aug 2021: The June 2021 Call for Action is resubmitted to the new ERC, Martin Griffiths, asking for a response for point ii (see below).

July 2021: The Grand Bargain Eminent Person, Jan Egeland, proposes a caucus structure to drive progress in three priority areas – one being cash coordination. 

June 2021: Call for Action, signed by 95 organisations – representing the diversity of the humanitarian system – is sent by USAID and the CALP Network to the Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC) calling on the ERC and IASC to take a decision on the leadership and scope of cash coordination within the broader humanitarian coordination architecture. The submission requested:

  1. Acknowledgment of receipt of the Call for Action. 
  2. A clear roadmap addressing the request in the enclosed letter, including how the process for achieving an agreement will build on the wealth of available research and ensure voices and perspectives of the humanitarian community as a whole will be engaged in the decision-making process. 

Confirmation of receipt was received from the outgoing ERC, Mark Lowcock, with feedback on the second point was deferred to the incoming ERC. 

2019: During an IASC meeting, the Grand Bargain Eminent Person Sigrid Kaag called for the IASC’s commitment and leadership on cash coordination and describes the issue as the “Achilles heel” of the system. At the same meeting, ICRC, Chair of the Grand Bargain Facilitation Group, highlights four areas of focus, one being cash coordination and called for resolution “with inclusive participation, including of local actors”. 

2019During the Grand Bargain Cash Workstream annual meeting, a sub-workstream on Tackling Political Blockages to Effective Humanitarian Action was established and cash coordination identified as the first priority. USAID and the CALP Network are agreed as co-leads. 

2019: The IASC launches revised humanitarian programme cycle (HPC) guidelines which include a stronger focus on more consistent consideration of cash within and across sectors and identify multi-purpose cash as an optional separate section of the HRP. 

2018: The UN Common Cash Statement is launched by OCHA, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP, with the aim to deliver cash using common systems wherever possible.  

2018A joint NGO position statement on cash coordination is sent to the IASC principals highlighting the need for predictable, effective, and well-resourced cash coordination 

2018: Nine donors in the Good Humanitarian Donorship group write to the IASC Working Group Chair to request the IASC to “decide upon, and issue clear, actionable guidance on cash coordination leadership”. No action was taken by the IASC. 

2017: The Global Cluster Coordinators Group clarifies the responsibility of the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group to ensure “strategic and streamlined cash coordination throughout the response.”  

2017: the CALP Network commissions the Global Public Policy Institute to explore lessons from different coordination models and publishes a joint White Paper with the results.  

2017: ODI publishes a synthesis report that emphasizes the ‘particularly urgent need for greater clarity from the IASC on where cash should sit within formal coordination structures, and agreement that cash transfers to meet basic needs should have dedicated space in strategic planning processes’. 

2016: Some International NGOs establish the Common Cash Delivery Network to facilitate partnerships for joint delivery of cash at the national level. 

2016: The Principals of the IASC commission the World Bank to develop a Strategic Note on Cash Transfers in Humanitarian Contexts. The Note recommends that the CWG function and resourcing be clarified and that cash coordination should be fully integrated in the humanitarian architecture. To date, these recommendations have not been formally taken forward. 

2015: UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and WHO release a Note to IASC principals stating that “cash coordination should be improved within the existing humanitarian system, and there should not be additional ad hoc mechanisms to coordination.”  

2015: The High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers calls for stakeholders to “seize the opportunity before it passes us by: currently, multiple humanitarian agencies are developing individual approaches and bespoke systems for providing cash transfers, which neither benefits from private sector capacity and expertise nor improves coordination across the humanitarian system. 

2007-15: As CVA grows to become a major part of humanitarian response, different options are developed over time to coordinate cash, with ad hoc mechanisms often led by NGOs. As early as 2012, there are global cash community events to address coordination.