Targeting vulnerable households for humanitarian cash transfers


Executive summary

This case study details the experiences of the emergency cash-based response to droughts in southern Zimbabwe from 2015 to 2017. CARE International in partnership with World Vision International (WVI) implemented a Department for International Development (DFID)-funded programme ‘Emergency Cash First Response to Drought-Affected Communities in the Southern Provinces of Zimbabwe’ from August 2015 to May 2017. It was the largest ever multi-purpose unconditional cash transfer programme in Zimbabwe. The programme aimed to meet the immediate food needs of households who were affected by the 2015 and 2016 droughts.

As with all humanitarian programmes, financial resources for this emergency response were finite. A critical element of cash-based programming is to ensure that a sufficient transfer value is distributed to households, in order for the intervention to be effective in meeting their immediate food needs. Therefore, a prioritisation process must take place, according to the needs of households, to channel resources to the most vulnerable. This underlines the importance of an effective targeting process.
The key challenge in targeting is how to establish who is most vulnerable. The factors determining this are contextspecific and require local knowledge. For this reason, the Zimbabwe cash transfer programme used a multi-stage, community-based approach to targeting.

This case study evaluates the cash transfer programme’s overall targeting process, from the macro, provincial level, to the micro, household level. It explains the targeting process, highlights successes and challenges faced and incorporates recommendations for future cash transfer programmes.
The key conclusions based on the experiences of targeting in this programme are as follows:

• Good targeting does not happen easily or without costs: sufficient resources must be allocated to the overall targeting process, including verification and registration. With a large-scale programme, those resources are required throughout most of the programme’s life, and not just in the first month or two, although the need will be less intensive as time goes on. Investing time and money into the targeting, registration and verification processes will pay dividends in the long run by helping to ensure a more effective programme which truly targets those most in need of assistance.

• Use a participatory, community-based approach to targeting at the local level. This should include good communication, facilitation and the active participation of targeted communities. This gives affected communities the opportunity to actively have a say on who will be targeted and prioritised for assistance, empowering them to take decisions into their own hands.

• Complement this community-led approach with a robust verification process to validate the data and ensure that those households which are objectively most in need according to the vulnerability criteria are indeed the ones being selected by the community.

• Collect as much data as possible on the food security and vulnerability of communities in the programme regions to corroborate the targeting data and ensure robust results.