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Review of emergency cash coordination mechanisms in the Horn of Africa: Kenya and Somalia

May 2012 — By Olivia Collins

In response to the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa in 2011, cash transfer programming (CTP) has been used extensively as a modality to meet humanitarian needs. Partly because the conditions permitted it (functioning markets, cash economies and delivery mechanisms), and partly because delivering in-kind assistance was almost impossible in some severely affected and insecure areas (particularly South Central Somalia), CTP was an appropriate response. This is the first disaster in which aid agencies have implemented cash transfers on such a huge scale.

This study, commissioned by the CALP Network, aims to review and document the six coordination mechanisms currently in place in Kenya and Somalia. It is part of a wider review of CTP coordination in emergency situations, which includes three case studies (Pakistan, Haiti and the Horn of Africa, all of which are drawn into a comparative study, which can also be found on the CALP Network website).

A number of factors have been identified as contributing to the success of cash coordination:
– Strong leadership of technical working groups created trust between members, enabling sharing of good practice.
– Significant resources committed to coordination.
– Independence of the Cash Based Response Working Group (CBRWG) enabled it to conduct strong advocacy for CTP in south central Somalia.
– Quality of the CALP Network facilitation and commitment of coordinator.
– During the emergency, huge needs for many organisations to share information acted as a catalyst to launch the cash coordination groups.

Other factors, have however limited the potential of cash coordination:
– For technical groups (CBRWG and the Kenyan Cash Transfer Technical Working Group), remaining independent reduces visibility and recognition within broader humanitarian systems.
– In Somalia, security issues mean that information sharing can put aid actors at risk.
– In Kenya, the role of the government in cash coordination is weak.
– Funding mechanisms create competition between organisations, leading to an unwillingness to admit and share failure.
– The sheer size of Nairobi and the traffic means attending coordination

This study finally concludes with various recommendations at the following levels:
– Recommendations for the humanitarian community at regional level in the Horn of Africa
– Recommendations for the CALP Network at regional level
– Recommendations for the chairs of all cash coordination mechanisms in the Horn of Africa
– Recommendations for the aid community in Somalia
– Recommendations for the aid community in Kenya