Back to all resources

Start Fund: Learning from Cash Programming

Date added

06 December 2017


This review is one in a series of learning products developed by the Start Fund Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning team with the intention of providing actionable recommendations to improve decision making at the project, crisis and system level.

Read the report

This learning product was led by Lydia Tanner, an independent consultant with input from a reference group made up of Start Fund committee members and subject matter experts. It explores what the Start Fund has learnt about cash-based transfers, an increasingly important component of crisis response.

Cash-based transfers are among the most-well researched of humanitarian interventions, and are estimated to represent 6-7% of humanitarian spending. At the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, donors committed to increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming. The Grand Bargain on cash included commitments to develop markers that will measure the outcomes of cash-based programming, to build evidence on costs, benefits and risks, and to collaborate and share information. Start Fund project reports provide a valuable source of data on how cash is used in emergencies, across multiple organisations, partnerships and contexts. This document provides a synthesis of experiences and lessons learnt during implementation of 63 projects that included cash-based programming across 87 responses (that encompassed 222 total projects) within the range of Alert 001 in early 2014 and Alert 132 in late 2016. The projects were implemented by 19 agencies across 25 countries in Africa, Asia and Central and South America.

Cash-based projects were implemented in natural crises (42 projects total, 26 for rapid-onset, 16 for slow-onset), and conflict crises (20 projects). In slow-onset emergencies, the 45-day project timeframe was seen as a springboard for member responses while they secured longer-term funding. In several instances, the flexibility of cash grants in slow-onset hazards was reported to be particularly valuable for supporting family resilience.

Blog: How can using cash build resilience within communities?

Read the report