There has been important progress under this workstream, with reported increases in the use of cash programming, and significant efforts have been made by the co-conveners and participating signatories to capitalise on other processes. Differences remain over how to track cash programming, and there was limited progress on operational coordination. The co-conveners, WFP and the UK, sought to take advantage of the active groups and mechanisms already in place around cash programming before the launch of the Grand Bargain and organised a workshop held in May 2017 for workstream participants, which identified strategic priorities that build upon pre-existing knowledge and processes. The six priority actions identified were: measuring cash; donor coordination; measuring value for money, efficiency and effectiveness; clarification with IASC on cash coordination; risk; and mapping of cash.
Collective activities included sharing of standards, guidelines and expertise on cash programming and proposals to enable better tracking by using the IATI standard, mapping of and planning for a joint donor mission to Lebanon and Jordan in 2018. Joint planning was also underway for workshops, studies and consultations on tracking cash and communicating evidence on efficiency, outcomes and gender-related issues.
There are also ongoing challenges in relation to the lack of global tracking, and differing interpretations as to whether the cash commitment refers specifically to cash transfers or to cash and vouchers. Overall operational coordination also remains a major challenge. the Global Cluster Coordinator’s Group (GCCG) agreed, in line with the World Bank’s strategic note (produced by GPPI), to include cash at the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG) level, and it is hoped that this will lead to improved operational coordination of cash programming.
This workstream has actively engaged with workstream 1 through Development Initiatives, FTS and IATI around measuring cash in the humanitarian system. It has also identified the importance of engagement with other workstreams, including workstream 5 (needs assessments) on the data required to design cash programmes, and workstream 10 (humanitarian–development nexus) to explore links between humanitarian cash programming and social protection mechanisms.
While the use of cash in humanitarian settings is no longer new to humanitarian actors, recent major programmes using cash as the main aid modality (e.g. in Turkey) serve as significant learning opportunities for the community and generate new debates aiming at improving the delivery of aid to the most vulnerable people.
Learning from the different operational models and gathering evidence on quality, efficiency, effectiveness and accountability are essential for fostering the use of the multipurpose cash transfer modality in the future.
NGOs, as first responders, can bring added value individually but also collectively in large-scale operational models for humanitarian cash transfers programmes. Given NGOs proximity to beneficiaries and field expertise, they are essential actors particularly in relation to ensuring the quality and effectiveness of cash programmes.
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