Cash Transfer Programming


Cash transfer programming (CTP) is an effective and flexible way to support people affected by emergencies, maintaining their dignity and choice, while fostering local economies. CTP includes all forms of cash and voucher-based assistance. We should always strive to implement CTP as part of an integrated programme of services provided, whether infrastructure-related (shelter, WASH, CCCM) or protection-oriented.

DRC considers CTP as a tool or modality, not a sector. Cash, vouchers, and in-kind goods are different ways in which DRC provides material assistance (goods/services). CTP will be considered as part of the response options available.


Cash Transfer Programming in Emergencies

The objective of CTP in emergencies is generally to meet basic needs.

  • To meet basic and critical needs across sectors (multipurpose cash). DRC recognises that displacement-affected people do not prioritise needs in terms of sectors. Therefore when possible, DRC prioritises the use of multipurpose cash so recipients have a maximum degree of flexibility and choice to meet needs. DRC complements this cash assistance for basic needs with the provision of humanitarian goods and services that cannot be met by the market, such as shelter rehabilitation, access to information or protection support.

Examples include:

  1. Meet basic needs – food, NFI, etc. or multi-sector
  2. Recover livelihoods
  3. Generate temporary income
  • To meet sector or programme-specific objectives. The use of CTP to meet sector or programme-specific objectives is the classic consideration of CTP, whereby cash or voucher assistance serves a particular purpose within a broader programme framework. This includes conditional initiatives such as the provision of business grants in livelihoods programmes or Cash for Work (CfW) schemes, and restricted CTP such as vouchers for food, seeds, or tools. When CTP is used to meet a sector-specific objective, DRC ensures the condition or restriction is necessary to achieve the intended objective, and that the objective matches beneficiaries’ priorities.

Examples include:

  1. Improve dietary diversity or consumption of fresh / specialised food
  2. Enable access to education or training
  3. Meet shelter / rent objectives

In the emergency phase, key aspects of DRC’s Cash Transfer Programming include:

  • Minimum market requirements are met:
    • Goods can move in and out of area
    • Existing supply can meet the demand generated by DRC’s response
    • Needs can be met through cash
  • Ensure target groups are in favour of receiving cash-based assistance
  • It is a good idea to draft a Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB), however rough, to understand what a household needs to survive for one month in the context. That will help you determine how much cash to provide in the emergency phase (to cover the income-expenditure gap).
  • Identify the quickest and most efficient delivery mechanism / payment system available. DRC prioritises electronic transfers (cash or voucher) when possible to minimise administrative burden and maximise efficiency and security of funds. Cash in hand (i.e. distributed directly by DRC) should be a last resort mechanism.

DRC should as a general rule (and where relevant) minimise the conditions and/or restrictions on CTP to maximise effectiveness and efficiency.


Common Challenges in CTP Interventions

  • CTP only makes sense if identified needs can be met with cash; in an emergency phase, it is essential to check that the context meets the minimum market requirements.
  • Contracting a financial service provider may appear complicated, but in many cases is faster (and more flexible) than procuring in-kind goods. Remember that according to DRC procedures, direct cash distributions by DRC staff are considered a last resort delivery mechanism and must be signed off by the Country Director and HOFA. Paper vouchers can appear to be a simple solution, but present many administrative challenges and are more susceptible to fraud. Whenever possible, use electronic transfers (cash or vouchers).
  • Beware of tensions caused by targeting only certain groups for cash assistance. Consider a one-off, blanket / more general distribution of cash or vouchers in the emergency phase, if budget allows, before moving to a more sophisticated targeting system.
  • CTP may need to be considered alongside and/or sequenced with in-kind assistance, and should always be linked to other humanitarian services (protection, access to clean water, etc.).


Core guidance and standards


Need help?

The DRC contact person for CTP in emergencies is:

Name:              Azim Noorani
Position:          Global Technical Advisor – Cash & Markets
Email:               [email protected]

For additional information regarding emergency respond and protection issues please contact: [email protected]


Modality Due Diligence (MDD) tool – prototype June 2017

Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) template – IFRC tool adapted by DRC

DRC CTP Dropbox (please contact Louisa for access): CTP Good Enough Guide and templates

Insite CTP Work Room