| Nov 27, 2018
Unconditional Cash Transfer to Combat Hunger
A woman's self-help group in Somalia.
In many of our contexts where food crises are common, but where markets are still functioning, we implement unconditional cash transfer programming in order to allow people to directly purchase food and other necessary goods. The traditional image of aid may be crates of supplies being shipped by land, air, and sea into countries in crisis, but for more than a decade Concern Worldwide has been helping to change the paradigm.
In 2017, we distributed almost $35 million worth of cash. And we’re not alone – it’s becoming more and more common in humanitarian efforts worldwide. Why? Because it works.
WHY USE CASH?
- It’s cheaper. It is far less expensive to get cash into a country than it is to ship thousands of metric tons of food.
- It’s quicker. In a humanitarian crisis, it can take weeks or even months to transport supplies into hard to reach areas. By contrast, once a cash distribution system has been put into place, vital funds can instantly reach thousands of people, regardless of their location.
- Cash gives people choice. Instead of giving each family one bag of grain, which may not be their most urgent need, cash allows them to purchase precisely the resources they judge to be most essential.
- Cash can empower. Our mission is to empower people to transform their own lives. Providing cash gives people autonomy and responsibility to help pull themselves out of poverty.
- It helps the economy. Traditional aid, like shipments of free grain, can sometimes hurt an economy by undercutting local farmers. By contrast, when people are given cash aid, they spend it in local stores and support the local economy. (Of course, this only works if local markets are functioning — so in some cases traditional aid still works better.)
- Cash can be invested. Just a small amount of seed funding can help people start their own businesses and become self-sufficient.
CASH IN ACTION
One of the great advantages of cash is that it does not need to be distributed in physical form. Concern uses many different forms of cash depending on the logistical and economic realities in each country. One form of cash-based assistance used quite often in East Africa is mobile money transfer, where participants receive funds via their mobile phones.
THE POWER OF CASH
Concern has found that under the right conditions, cash-based assistance has more positive outcomes for recipients than traditional assistance. And of course, the more efficiently we can deliver aid, the better — because it means we can reach more people who desperately need our help.
In part thanks to you, last year 1,130,808 people in 20 countries directly benefited from Concern’s cash-based assistance… and that number is set to rise in the year ahead. As simple as it might seem, cash is a powerful agent of change that will continue to transform the way we provide aid to vulnerable people in the future.