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Cash transfers programming in the Pacific: A Feasibility Scoping Study

2016 — By Christina Hobbes and Rosie Jackson

The use of Cash Transfer Programming (CTP) to provide humanitarian assistance so that people may access the goods and services they need before, during and following a crisis has been gaining momentum over the past decade.

Despite the considerable use of cash and vouchers by government and non-state actors in major emergencies in Asia, the use of CTP in humanitarian response in the South Pacific islands has been relatively small-scale, and limited to only a few countries.

As one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are under growing pressure to ensure that when disasters strike, humanitarian response is efficient, effective and helps build resilience. Four PICs are amongst the top 10 countries that are most at risk worldwide, according to the World Risk Index 2015 report. Earthquakes, floods, storms and droughts cause both human and capital losses throughout the region every year. Furthermore, the dependence of many PICs on external markets for commodities and services makes the region highly vulnerable to supply volatility and price inflation.

This Scoping Study sought to consider the feasibility of scaling up the use of cash transfers in emergencies in the Pacific. By assessing barriers to the uptake of CTP, both attitudinal obstacles as well as operational challenges, the study aimed to support practitioners and decision makers in identifying next steps for CTP.

The study explored previous and ongoing cash transfer activities, both short- and longer-term programmes, to identify lessons and good practice. The study examined four critical questions:

1.Is there an enabling environment for cash transfers during emergency response in the Pacific islands?
2. What CTP experience in emergencies has there been in the region to date?
3. What are the key features of the markets in the target countries, and what are the implications for CTP feasibility?
4. Are the infrastructure and operational environment for cash transfers adequate and supportive?

The Scoping Study report is made up of three components: a regional report and two case studies on Fiji and Tonga.