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Case Study

Scaling Up Humanitarian Cash Transfers in Nepal

2016 — By Barnaby Willitts-King, John Bryant

The Nepal earthquake has a number of lessons for the global debates on scaling up cash both at the level of cash responses themselves and in the more transformational way envisaged by the High Level Panel through which cash can disrupt the established humanitarian system.

Humanitarian cash transfers after the 2015 Nepal earthquakes were a major and highly appropriate part of the response given the challenging logistics of delivering in-kind aid to remote mountainous areas. But the Government of Nepal and humanitarian agencies were not sufficiently prepared to respond rapidly to this disaster using humanitarian cash responses to their maximum potential. This was due to a lack of government will and capacity, appropriate national disaster institutions, financial infrastructure and effective coordination arrangements among international actors.

While there has been some progress towards being able to mount better, more efficient and large scale cash responses in the future, cash preparedness still remains too low a priority in Nepal given the disasters that will continue to affect the country.

Scaling up humanitarian cash transfers in Nepal is one of a series of case studies building on the work of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers. The Panel concluded that cash transfers are not used enough in humanitarian responses and not used in ways that take advantage of their transformative potential.