Cash Transfers, Food Security and Resilience in Fragile Contexts

DIE Discussion Paper on the general evidence and German experience

This paper provides an overview of the evidence on the impact of cash-based interventions (CBIs) on the immediate, underlying and basic causes of food and nutrition security.

Using a theoretical framework developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund, we stress the high potential of CBIs for humanitarian and transitional assistance. In particular, given their great adaptability to contexts and needs as well as their ability to link short and long-term outcomes, it is clear that CBIs should form part of every response analysis. This holds despite challenges such as the need for markets and the difficulty of influencing the exact livelihood sector on which beneficiaries spend the cash.

The German experience has so far focused more or less exclusively on one specific form of CBIs, i.e. cash-for-work programmes. These have been given a sharp boost by the recent refugee crisis in Syria and the neighbouring countries. While cash-for-work programmes provide participants with short-term, immediate income, it is more difficult to identify their longer-term effects. A greater willingness to make use of other types of CBI and thus the option of adapting more to contexts is a desirable next step for German development cooperation.


Luis A. Camacho
Merle Kreibaum