The impact of cash transfer programmes on protection outcomes in Afghanistan

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Executive summary

The need for cash-based interventions for social protection in Afghanistan Continued conflicts and natural disasters in Afghanistan have seen Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) increase from around 400,000 in 2012, to over one million IDPs in Afghanistan at the time of this report1, with many migrating to urban centres. This fact, coupled with high unemployment in urban areas has created significant social vulnerability. One initiative, the Afghanistan Pension Administration and Safety Net Project, created by the World Bank and the Afghan Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSAMD), was setup in 2009 with the aim of providing a national system of social protection. The project has faced significant delays2 and it has largely been left to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and multilateral organisations to provide social protection mechanism to the country’s most vulnerable peoples.


Although cash-based interventions (CBIs) are increasingly used to deliver humanitarian assistance in support of more traditional in-kind emergency distributions, there is now a growing, global acceptance among stakeholders of the need to pay closer attention to the positive and negative impact of CBIs on key protection components. Although there have been several key contributions on this issues in recent years, including studies conducted by Samuel Hall3,4, more research needs to be carried out in Afghanistan on the secondary effects of CBIs on protection issues for IDPs, which are often not systematically considered during the inception phase of project designs, nor as part of wider assistance program strategies.

Samuel Hall has been commissioned by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to identify the effects and impact of cash-based programming on protection outcomes in Afghanistan, particularly in relation to ‘Do No Harm’ and minimising risks in terms of protection. This builds on Protection Outcomes In Cash Based Interventions: A Literature Review produced by DRC in January 20155 and which draws a number of conclusions on the impacts of CBIs on protection issues and recommends areas of further research.

A practical guide and recommendations for CBI practitioners

Above all, this report is designed to shed light on how cash-based interventions can be used to best effect in Afghanistan by following principles of humanitarian action, such as Do No Harm. With this in mind Chapter 6 of this report provides a dedicated guide with recommendations for practitioners designing cash-based interventions for displaced communities in the unique context of Afghanistan.
The guide also identifies six evaluation criteria for determining the suitability of different cash and voucher modalities for a given intervention.