Cash Learning Partnership: Turning Cash Into Aid, Part 2

Kendra Hughbanks, ACF's CaLP assistant, tells us what she's learning about Cash Based Interventions during her month in the Philippines.
ACF’s cash-transfer programs
ACF's cash-transfer programs provide training for small shop owners like these in Nakuru, Kenya. Credit: S. Pietzsch.

Kendra Hughbanks is working for ACF International as the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) Assistant. Though based in New York, she is spending a month in the Philippines to focus on case studies that illuminate emergency intervention and recovery. This post is the second in a series. Read Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4.


One of the really significant advantages of including cash-based interventions (CBIs) in disaster response plans is that, with cash, aid organizations are not forced to guess what disaster victims will need. This can lead even the most experienced responders to design inadequate, one-size-fits-all solutions based on incorrect assumptions. For example, our emergency hygiene kits normally include a bucket—but what if some victims don’t need buckets? Wasting material is the same as wasting money, which is something we try very hard not to do.

But as Action Against Hunger and other members of the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) build cash-based interventions into our contingency plans, we are finding that cash poses its own challenges. For instance, we wouldn't be able to implement an effective CBI without coordination with local actors and stake-holders. Since there is little time to build these local relationships immediately after a disaster, the CaLP hosts a local Cash Learning Group (CLG), which brings together international and local representatives as well as representatives from the Philippine government. The CLG aims to function much like the CaLP does – create a platform for collaboration and learning, not a separate operational entity. With part of the CaLP’s efforts coming to a close at the end of this year, CLG participants are busy establishing a framework that will allow them to continue to develop CBIs and share knowledge with each other about best practices. Institutionalization of cash as a form of aid is going beyond the headquarters of CaLP member organizations and infiltrating local offices and philosophies on the ground, and influencing local government agencies.

The local element of the CLG goes one step beyond working with government departments and Philippine NGOs. Participants held an extensive discussion on the role of the beneficiary in the group. People affected by emergency situations that receive assistance from a CBI are often consulted during both program design and post-distribution monitoring. The CLG agreed that beneficiaries can come to group meetings as guests so that we can draw even more from their experiences. Forging these connections creates long-term relationships in communities that frequently experience emergencies, which should strengthen future programs.