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Cash 101: Cash and Voucher Assistance Explained

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Cashing in: Turning Challenges into Opportunities when Evaluating Humanitarian Cash Assistance

1 April 2021 — By Neil Dillon, Ruth McCormack, Amelie Sundberg, Samir Hafiz, Paul Harvey, Gabrielle Smith

The use of cash transfers in humanitarian action has implications for evaluative activity. On the one hand, the utility of some evaluations has been strengthened by the increased attention that has been paid to evaluating cash transfers, the agreement of common outcome indicators and the creation of value-for-money methodologies. On the other hand, the programming approaches that are increasingly common to cash assistance – such as multipurpose and unconditional transfers, linkages with social protection systems and the digitalisation of transfers in partnership with financial service providers – present particular challenges for understanding humanitarian outcomes, delineating response scope, analysing different operational models and analysing new data sources.

This discussion paper explores the challenges faced when evaluating cash assistance based on research activities by ALNAP along with substantive inputs from the CALP Network drawing on their wider research, such as the State of the World’s Cash 2020 Report.

The findings go into detail on issues that humanitarian teams and evaluators should pay special attention to:

  • the outcomes of multipurpose cash transfers
  • outcomes for markets and multiplier effects
  • the role of cash coordination mechanisms
  • collaboration in cash assistance: the impact of operational models
  • linkages between cash assistance and social protection
  • working with private sector partners in the delivery of cash transfers
  • efficiency and cost-effectiveness

Cash 101: Cash and Voucher Assistance Explained

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