Desk review of cash and market studies in Yemen, February 2017


The highly volatile security situation and political instability which has been affecting Yemen since March 2015 has caused large waves of internal displacement and decline in livelihoods. According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) 2017 an estimated 18.8 million people in Yemen need some kind of humanitarian or protection assistance, including 10.3 million people who are in acute need, and more than 3 million people who are internally displaced.
Cash based response have been ongoing in Yemen prior to the crisis, primarily through the Social Welfare Fund1 and development activities. With the emerging crisis, humanitarian actors in Yemen have utilised cash and vouchers as a response tool to meet emergency needs. According to mapping done by the Cash and Market Working Group (CMWG), cash and/or vouchers were distributed by 30 agencies in 13 out of 22 governments (80 districts) in 2016, with cash interventions from multiple sectors ongoing in at least 29 districts. The Food Security and Agriculture cluster had the biggest cash/voucher programme, followed by Shelter, Protection (including GBV), Health and Early Recovery in 2016.

Cash and voucher interventions by the humanitarian community in Yemen have been primarily used to respond to sectoral needs. However, in 2016 small-scale Multi-Purpose Cash Grants (MPG) have emerged as actors seek flexible responses to a dynamic context. The CWMG anticipates the scale of MPG interventions is very likely to increase during the latter part of 2017, as agencies seek ways to allow beneficiaries to adapt to the changing situation easily.

Objective of the review

In order to critically analyse the situation and to make recommendations on the appropriateness, effectiveness, and efficiency of market/cash based approaches in Yemen, in January 2017 the CMWG undertook a review of existing information which can inform humanitarian programming. The particular focus of the review is on information which could form a basis of a feasibility study for cash/voucher programmes in Yemen. The framework of the feasibility study includes the following topics:

  • Market systems for relevant goods & services: domestic market functioning, prices and availability/seasonality of goods and services, supply chain, market actors’ behaviour, access to market for affected population, possible market support options.

  • Financial Service Provider Capacity and Transfer Mechanisms: coverage and capacity of social protection system; coverage, capacity, beneficiary access, services and costs of financial service providers; infrastructure for e-transfers/mobile banking.

  • Acceptance and Safety: legal environment; authorities acceptance of cash based transfers; community familiarity and acceptance for cash modalities and mechanisms; impacts on gender, household and community relations; impact on safety and security of recipients and staff.

  • Risk & Opportunity Analysis: likelihood and severity of identified risks (protection/ security/other), or negative impact; mitigation measures; likelihood and benefit of identified opportunity or positive impact.

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: how cost-efficient are cash based modalities compared to other options; how cost-effective are cash based modalities compare to other options; advantages, disadvantages and overall feasibility of each cash based transfers modality and delivery mechanism; what is the use and impact of cash assistance so far.

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