The impact of cash transfers on resilience: A multi-country study
Provision of humanitarian aid in the form of cash transfers has gained significant momentum over the past few years. Research and evidence on certain aspects of cash transfer programmes (CTP) has been well documented, particularly regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of cash.
It is also well recognised that cash-based responses have the potential to support longer-term gains beyond consumption; however, it is less clear which aspects of resilience they support and how CTPs can best complement other forms of programming in more complex interventions to build longer-term resilience. Based on this, CARE International UK commissioned this study, using CARE International UK’s own programme and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) data, to analyse and test the extent to which receipt of cash contributes to resilience.
The study is based on experiences and data from three country programmes where CARE International UK delivered cash transfers: Zimbabwe, Niger and Ethiopia.
However, due to data availability, analysis on Ethiopia in this study is limited. The CTPs analysed in Niger and Ethiopia were conditional, unrestricted cash (Cash for Work – CfW) and were part of a wider multi-sectoral programme which included livelihoods, governance and resilience-building support. The CTP in Zimbabwe was multi-purpose, unconditional cash.
CARE interprets resilience as strengthening poor households’ capacities to deal with shocks and stresses, manage risks and transform their lives for the better in response to hazards and opportunities. In CARE International’s increasing resilience framework, this is further distilled into four core resilience capacities which CARE’s programming seeks to strengthen: anticipatory, absorptive, adaptive and transformative capacities.
These help people to cope better with shocks, stresses and uncertainty. They are understood as:
• Anticipate risks: foresee and therefore reduce the impact of hazards that are likely to occur, and be ready for unexpected events through prevention, preparedness and planning.
• Absorb shocks: accommodate the immediate impact shock and stress have on their lives, wellbeing and livelihoods, by making changes in their usual practices and behaviours using available skills and resources, and by managing adverse conditions
• Adapt to evolving conditions: adjust their behaviours, practices, lifestyles and livelihood strategies in response to changed circumstances and conditions under multiple, complex and at times changing risks.
• Transform: influence the enabling environment and drivers of risks to create individual and systemic changes on behaviours, local governance and decision-making structures, market economics, and policies and legislation.
The study uses these resilience capacities as the framework to assess how CTPs best support resilience building. Absorptive capacity is most known for directly being improved by cash interventions, but this study aimed to assess the contribution of CTPs towards all capacities that help build resilience, and make preliminary recommendations for how this can be strengthened.