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Multi-Purpose Cash and Sectoral Outcomes: a Review of Evidence and Learning

2018 — By Paul Harvey, Sara Pavanello

Growing attention to multi-purpose cash offers an exciting opportunity to redress a long-standing shortcoming of humanitarian response. There is a need to better understand and respond to crisis-affected people in a more holistic and coherent way, going beyond sectors to bring the emphasis back to how people live and perceive and prioritize their needs. Multi-purpose cash opens up possibilities for enhanced collaboration among technical sectors and between cash and sector experts. Sectoral expertise should be more adequately represented in multi-sectoral assessments, design, implementation and monitoring of multi-purpose cash.

Multi-purpose cash makes up the largest proportion of cash-based interventions implemented by UNHCR, but there is scope for further upscaling in displacement settings. This report sets out evidence and learning on the sectoral outcomes of multi-purpose cash, drawing on a literature review, key informant interviews and case studies from Greece and Afghanistan. As ample evidence of the past ten years demonstrates, cash is an important part of the humanitarian toolbox that can allow people to meet their basic needs effectively and with dignity. However, evidence is lacking on how far multi-purpose cash contributes to sectoral outcomes in health, WASH, shelter, food security and nutrition, education, livelihoods, energy and environment programming, and how sectoral interventions should include multi-purpose cash along with other activities to best reach intended sectoral outcomes that contribute to protection. This report helps address this gap.