Fostering NGO's and frontline responders' engagement


The 10 Grand Bargain workstreams

Greater Transparency
More support and funding tools to local and national responders
Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming
Reduce Duplication and Management costs with periodic functional reviews
Improve Joint and Impartial Needs Assessments
A Participation Revolution: include people receiving aid in making the decisions which affect their lives
Enhanced quality funding through reduced earmarking and multi-year planning and funding
Enhanced quality funding through reduced earmarking and multi-year planning and funding
Harmonize and simplify reporting requirements
Enhance engagement between humanitarian and development actors

Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming


Aid organisations and donors commit to:

  1. Increase the routine use of cash alongside other tools, including in-kind assistance, service delivery (such as health and nutrition) and vouchers. Employ markers to measure increase and outcomes.
  2. Invest in new delivery models which can be increased in scale while identifying best practice and mitigating risks in each context. Employ markers to track their evolution.
  3. Build an evidence base to assess the costs, benefits, impacts, and risks of cash (including on protection) relative to in-kind assistance, service delivery interventions and vouchers, and combinations thereof.
  4. Collaborate, share information and develop standards and guidelines for cash programming in order to better understand its risks and benefits.
  5. Ensure that coordination, delivery, and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are put in place for cash transfers.
  6. Aim to increase use of cash programming beyond current low levels, where appropriate. Some organisations and donors may wish to set targets.

The co-conveners: The UK and WFP
NGOs co-champions: Dina Brick CRS,  Sheila Thornton Collaborative Cash Delivery (CCD)
Helpful contacts: WFP: Silvana Giuffrida 
 Official IASC page on this workstream available here

Main progress in the last 3 years:

Increase the routine use of cash, where appropriate, alongside other tools – ensure that coordination, delivery and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are put in place for cash transfers” Cash workstream’s core commitment established in 2018.

In 2019, for the second year running, the Cash work stream has made more progress than the other Grand Bargain workstreams. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) emphasized that while the high level of energy around cash, and progress associated with it, was largely independent of the Grand Bargain, the work stream acts as an important catalyst, bringing together a range of actors to address key issues. The ODI report welcomed the collaborative approach that has included clear and actionable priorities, defined roles, and targeted efforts to address areas identified as receiving less attention.

Overall, significant progress has been made to increase the scale and quality of cash and voucher assistance (CVA), and in 2019, preliminary findings from the Development Initiatives Global Humanitarian Assistance report suggested that global volumes of humanitarian cash and voucher assistance grew by 68 percent from 2016 to 2018, to a total of USD 4.7 billion. Recent developments have also noted an overall shift from a focus on scaling up cash to an increased focus on quality and outcomes, though noting that capacity to implement CVA interventions remains limited. The recent development of new operational models, including the Collaborative Cash Delivery network (CCD) formed by 15 NGOs and the UN Common Cash System (UNCCS) formed by four UN agencies, suggests a further willingness to collaborate and work differently to deliver CVA. Donors have also agreed on a common donor statement setting out a more harmonized approach to funding CVA.

Alongside limited capacity, the perception that cash is riskier than other forms of aid remains the biggest barrier to scaling up CVA [1]. A dedicated working group on risk, co-led by CaLP and WFP, exists under the Grand Bargain cash workstream, exists to catalyse and streamline work in this area [2].

The issue of cash coordination remains another of the primary barriers to scaling up quality CVA. Despite requests made by many actors, the IASC has not taken key decisions on cash coordination, including identifying a responsible entity to ensure routine and predictable coordination of cash activities, and this is having serious operational impacts. Despite investment in new operational models, and the willingness to adapt ways of working, we still struggle to fit CVA and particularly multipurpose cash – which is inherently multisectoral – into our sector-based system. The newly-established workstream – Addressing Political Blockages to Quality CVA – seeks to address this.

The co-conveners of the cash work stream, WFP and DFID, remain very committed to moving this workstream forward. Priority areas have continued to evolve in the past two years with two additional ones as an output of the May 2019 meeting of the cash workstream to address remaining challenges including resolving responsibility for operational coordination and linking to other workstreams (particularly localization). The eight priority areas of the work stream are 1) Efficiency, Effectiveness and Value for Money; 2) Social Protection and Humanitarian Cash; 3) Joint Donor Efforts; 4) Cash and Gender; 5) Tracking Cash and Vouchers; 6) Cash and Risks; 7) Tackling political blockages to effective cash; and 8) Partnerships with local actors.

The cash workstream has identified the importance of enhanced engagement with other workstreams, including workstream 2 (local and national responders), work stream 5 (needs assessments) on the data required to design cash programmes, and work stream 10 (humanitarian–development nexus) to explore links between humanitarian cash programming and social protection mechanisms.

Why should you engage?

The next ten years will likely see further radical shifts in the humanitarian landscape. The growing use of cash to meet humanitarian needs is challenging traditional sector and mandate-based models and bringing with it opportunities to work with new partners and tools. With its links to other reforms in humanitarian assistance, such as the push for localization, participatory approaches, social protection and market-based support, cash is being increasingly regarded as a catalyst for positive transformation. As one of the most important innovations in humanitarian aid, the use of cash at scale is likely to define the way we adapt and prepare for these changes.

The work stream will continue to provide guidance to ensure that humanitarian assistance today and tomorrow can offer the greatest choice, dignity and value for people affected by crisis. The workstream is a key forum for realizing the transformational potential of cash.

How can you engage?

  • The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP), a membership network of over 80 organizations made up of UN, NGOs, RC/RC movement, donors, private sectors, academics and others. CaLP is closely engaged across all sub-workstreams of the cash workstream and seeks to provide opportunities for its members, including those who are not Grand Bargain signatories, to engage in key discussion areas.
  • The CCD is a network of 15 NGOs, formed in 2016, with the overall objective to deliver quality CVA at scale collaboratively. It is a vision that allows multiple actors (beyond NGOs) to assemble themselves in ways that are tailored to the needs of each response, avoids duplication, and capitalizes on the strengths of each actor. It has been activated in three countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia).
  • The UN statement, by OCHA, UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF, in 2018 aims to provide cash through a common cash system in crises globally, that all actors can join, with six country pilots as a start (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, CAR, Ecuador, Niger, Yemen). It is based on the recognized need to improve complementarities between mutual efforts in the field, create synergies and ensure that affected populations receive the best assistance and services in a cost-effective manner. It seeks to secure and fully realize the efficiency and effectiveness gains that cash assistance presents and to avoid parallel systems amongst operational agencies or the duplication of financial instruments.


[1] The State of the World’s Cash Report: Cash Transfer Programming in Humanitarian Aid, the Cash Learning Platform (CaLP), February 2018. 

[2] Cash is no riskier than other forms of aid. So why do we still treat in-kind like the safer option?, the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP)

[3] The Grand Bargain Annual Report 2019, ODI June 2019





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