Although contracted by Oxfam GB and funded by ECHO, this work really embraced the food sector as a whole. Indeed, since the focus was really on using unconditional cash in a multi-purpose way following a disaster, it could be argued that it should sit above the food sector. However, there is an existing cash working group within the sector, and it proved a sensible reference point for the work at the time.
The work had three separate components, and was spread out over several months in 2015 and early 2016:
- A review and mapping of cash for work and unconditional cash responses to people affected by the 51 day war in Gaza in 2014, including the majority of international agencies responding. This has not been formally published but is available on request.
- A new approach to looking at beneficiary preferences – more on this below
- A period of technical support to each of four INGOs in Gaza, focusing on their operational preparedness to use cash as part of their response planning for the next disaster or conflict
While this was not a formal evaluation, several aspects of the process used evaluation methodology, and produced formal recommendations to the NGO partners, UN agencies, the coordination mechanisms and the supporting donor.
An innovative approach to understanding beneficiary preferences
When potential beneficiaries are asked about their preferences for cash (or commodity) transfers, the strongest determinant in the answer is the history of the agency asking the question. I set out to find a way to ask the question which would generate a useful, impartial answer. I also hoped to disaggregate the answer by the kind of people being asked (urban, rural, men, women, farmers, fishermen, others) and by the nature of the event (post flooding, post conflict, or ‘normal’ times).
The participatory approach adopted provides some very interesting answers to the question. While more work is needed in some cases, the basic picture is clear and sufficiently definitive to use in response planning. Spoiler: it’s cash. But the preferred means of payment varies depending on the context!
This one is also awaiting publication, but I will share on request.