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World Food Programme Cash-based transfers for delivering food assistance

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The World Food Programme (WFP) delivers millions of tons of food each year to hungry people, but, increasingly, this assistance comes through cash-based transfers (CBT) that allows them to buy food in the market and be in charge of key decisions that affect their lives.

For WFP, cash-based transfers are an effective way of reaching the Zero Hunger development goal by 2030, through reducing the cost of providing food assistance while maximising the number of people reached. If deployed in the right context, CBT can improve access to food, contribute to more consistent consumption patterns and diversified diets as well as reduce negative coping strategies such as selling valuable production assets to buy food. WFP takes the view that it is the people it serves who are in a position to decide what is best for them. Cash-based transfers help by giving the purchasing power to the people.

WFP is a lead humanitarian organization providing cash-based assistance. In 2016, it supported more than 14 million people globally with cash-based transfers for food. These transfers come in various forms from traditional banknotes, bank transfers or value vouchers to more innovative electronic platforms such as smart cards or mobile money.

Their use is dictated by the situation, from the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster to a protracted refugee crisis or recurrent assistance needed during the lean season.

WFP works closely with other humanitarian partners, national governments and non-governmental organizations, as well as new partners from the private sector to implement programmes that are cash-based. They include telecom companies and financial service providers, such as banks, microfinance institutions and money-transfer companies, as well as local food retailers to optimize the food supply chain and ensure that consumers get the best possible price.