Planning and implementing cash transfers in emergencies: Practical insights from Pakistan
The use of cash transfers and vouchers, or together ‘cash-based responses’, has grown remarkably in recent years. Cash transfers provide beneficiaries with money, while vouchers ensure access to food for a predefined quantity or value in identified outlets. While there is a large body of reviews and case studies of cash-based responses, general program guidance and performance in developmental contexts , much less has been documented in terms of practical, real-world implementation in emergencies. This paper is a contribution to help filling that gap. It is primarily directed to practitioners involved in planning, designing and implementing cash-based responses and cash transfers in particular in the aftermath of a sudden covariate natural shock. In this case, we show the complete set of analytical and operational steps undertaken in the context of, as defined by the United Nations, the ‘flood of the century’ that devastated Pakistan in 2010.
Clearly, the practice of cash transfers under such scenarios is significantly different from other contexts. A key compelling challenge, for example, consists in managing competing priorities from marrying analytical rigour and operational flexibility that is, how to appropriately select and deliver assistance at scale under binding constraints of limited information and humanitarian pressures. The paper shows the roll-out the entire decision making and operational process from assessments to actual distribution of assistance that led to the implementation of WFP’s cash transfer program in Rahim Yar Khan district, Punjab province.
The report is organized as follows: it provides an overview of cash-based programs in Pakistan and the methodology deployed for cash by WFP; presents findings from assessments of markets and delivery capacity, and lays out program design and monitoring arrangements. The final two sections offer the reporting and financial framework, and conclude with lessons and challenges.