“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 . 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 .
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.
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.
The Grand Bargain Annual Report 2019, ODI June 2019
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