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ODI/UNDP Cash Learning Project workshop (Aceh)

Time (GMT +01) 00:00 23:59


Lesley Adams, ODI

Simon Field, UNDP

The Aceh workshop took place on 15th and 16th June 2005 at DINSOS (Livelihood sector working group secretariat) in Banda Aceh. An average of 30 participants from 21 organizations took part, and presentations were made by 18 organizations. The following summary highlights the key points in each presentation, and the key points that were selected for the case study presentations, or debated during the group discussions.

Mercy Corps

  • Mercy Corps was the first to get started with Cash for Work projects – less than 2 weeks after the disaster and having had no operational presence in Aceh before, but importantly, having staff on the initial team with experience from Afghanistan in cash interventions
  • MC’s underlying philosophy of “Emergence” (developed in collaboration with Dan Curran from Harvard Business School) led directly to a decision to provide community cash grants which allowed choice and flexibility to communities in determining the process of emergence from the disaster;
  • Mercy Corps approach to livelihoods recovery stemmed from the agency’s position that lost assets, for the majority of small businesses, should be replaced through grants not loans – rather as insurance replaces assets lost in disasters in richer countries, among families who can afford it. Loans are part of Mercy Corps’ broader programme, and will be for medium-size businesses.

Panglima Laot

  • Panglima Laot is a traditional organization rooted in the coastal culture of fishing communities in Aceh. Their partnership with UNDP and additional funding through USAID has helped them to develop their capacity to do the work of an NGO – including implementation of cash for work programmes. Cash is disbursed directly from Panglima Laot’s finance officer to work group leaders – who are accompanied by friends for security.

Save the Children (SC)

  • SC had no experience of CFW programmes in Indonesia (they brought in an expert from Ethiopia in April) to help them implement CFW projects over a large area – 5 districts. Moreover, in Simileue the terrain is difficult and many communities are difficult to access. SC negotiated an agreement with a local bank to disburse the funds; SC covered inaccessible areas that the bank was unable to access. The system of using the bank for disbursement had the advantage for SC of considerably reducing staff work load and reducing risk. The advantage to beneficiaries was in introducing them to the formal banking system – access to banks has been relatively poor in Aceh.

British Red Cross (BRCS)

  • BRCS’s programme paid people to “sit down and plan”. Families and communities met to discuss what they wanted, and how they wanted to go about achieving it. The agency saw that CFW projects were achieving a lot, but observed some drawbacks – men being away from their family at a critical time, and poor targeting (the most vulnerable often didn’t benefit). Hence, community grants, grants for livelihoods activities, grants for shelter. BRCS’s intervention included a focus on “Identity” – linking the registration of beneficiaries to the development of what will end up as the identity card for the household – and linking the intervention to the process of mapping, registering and drawing up agreements for land purchase. Another critical area for BRC is the facilitation of the establishment of bank accounts for every household – into which grants will be paid – a policy requirement for BRCS in Indonesia. Corruption is also addressed through publicizing sanctions to be meted out in case of misuse of funds – “mistakes are acceptable, corruption is not!”

Swiss Development Corporation (SDC)

  • Cash grants provided to host families in and around Banda Aceh as a retrospective payment to acknowledge the solidarity of families who hosted IDPs and to provide a small amount of cash to ease the economic burden (around $30 per month for 3 months). The approach is designed for greatest effectiveness and efficiency (banks were used to pay beneficiaries who were registered by community representatives), and builds on SDC’s experience from a number of past cash projects. The project covered Banda Aceh only and no other agency had such a project in other “urban” locations where families would be hosting IDPs. The amount was calculated to cover a proportion of the costs for 3 months’ of hosting. An average of 6 “guests” were living with 4 host family members. The policy was for retrospective payment because of the risk of abuse of the system if it continued.

Government of Indonesia: Department of Social Welfare (DINSOS)

  • The presenter outlined key components of the social welfare system in Aceh for alleviation of long-term vulnerability – e.g. BULOG’s Raskin system (subsidized rice for poor households) and DINSOS programmes which targeted disadvantaged households with funds for income generation etc. Tsunami responses include WFP’s food relief programme (DINSOS manages the buffer stock) and the complementary Uang Lauk Pauk (ULP) system through which households received cash to the value of Rph 3,000 per person per day paid on a monthly basis; the ULP faces a challenge of targeting in some areas and is also reported to be phasing out shortly. Collaboration between NGOs and DINSOS is welcomed to improve effectiveness.

Millenium Relief & Development Services (MRDS) – evaluating (Oxfam’s) CFW

  • The evaluation of Oxfam’s CFW showed the importance of the CFW intervention for psycho-social recovery at a critical time (early February) when households were starting to move back to their villages and seeking alternatives to accommodation in barracks. The evaluation was designed to pick up all negative and positive impacts of the CFW and to evaluate process also. The survey investigated how households used the cash. Spending on big items included around 25% on basic needs (kitchen equipment, clothing, medicine); 24% on gifts, loans and community contribution and 15% for livelihood recovery (building, business capital, transport) – therefore demonstrating the value of cash in enabling flexibility and choice and stimulating economic and social recovery.

International Relief & Development (IRD) Community representative in IRD’s project area discusses economic activity stimulated by CFW

  • A member of IRD’s community empowerment committee explained the benefit of IRD’s CFW programme in drawing residents of heavily-destroyed urban locations back together to these areas for daily work activities and facilitating psycho-social healing. Around the projects sprang up small kiosques and traders who responded to the need for refreshments and the cash now circulating within the community, bringing activity into a desolate area. Without a CFW project coming in at the time it did, there would have been high rates of delinquency.

Discussion topics

  • Advantages and disadvantages of different cash disbursement systems
  • Inclusion/exclusion – who benefits, who doesn’t;
  • Timing/transitioning from one cash intervention to the next
  • Impact of CFW – on individuals, communities, the NGO, the economy, social organization, the environment

Types of livelihoods information collection

  • Emergency assessment – rapid, sampling, to determine broad areas of intervention and indicative budget
  • Village-level needs assessment – for detailed implementation planning
  • Pre-tsunami livelihoods analysis – e.g. SC’s Household Economy Analysis
  • Post-tsunami livelihoods analysis – e.g. CARE’s livelihoods assessment
  • Community Action Planning – e.g. Oxfam, UNDP

Livelihoods frameworks and key Information

  • DfID’s Sustainable Livelihoods Framework
  • Minimum livelihoods information needed to plan emergency and recovery interventions

Appropriate interventions – market- based alternatives to food relief

  • CARE/TANGO presented on their plan to pilot an alternative to food relief for vulnerable households. Given the wealth of information indicating that food aid is not appropriate as a food security safety net in Aceh, CARE proposed to pilot a system of distribution of vouchers+cash – vouchers which enable – and restrict – the beneficiaries to purchasing basic food items, and cash which allow them to purchase additional food items to complement the basic items obtained using the voucher.
  • WFP’s initial assessments indicated an interest in looking at food relief alternatives.
  • Other reports which discuss the appropriateness of food relief in Aceh are listed in the references section

Market Monitoring

  • Oxfam presented some of their market data – showing disaggregation to analyse impact of CFW on market prices – no impact was detected. The strengths and weaknesses of market monitoring in Aceh in general were discussed – basically, very little is being done, it is not coordinated or linked into an overall Aceh-wide information system, there is often no data on pre-tsunami prices, and agencies often have not considered what they would do if there was a price hike in a critical commodity. An

Aceh-wide market system is necessary, but whose responsibility is it to establish it? And can agencies collaborate to develop this?

Livelihoods Interventions: using vouchers rather than cash; and grants vs loans

  • IRD presented about their system to replace lost business assets using vouchers. The system was established because it was requested by grant beneficiaries who feared using the cash for other consumption needs; the system had not yet started operating, but was designed to avoid/minimize abuse. The vouchers in fact do not restrict the beneficiaries, as the commodities indicated in the voucher are identified through the business development graining which precedes the award of the grant.
  • SC presented about their programme which provided a mix of grants and loans to small businesses, and 100% grants to vulnerable households. All benefits are paid through banks.
  • The issue of whether to provide grants or loans was debated using a participatory exercise. Participants were asked to stand on one or other side of the room according to whether they thought that people who had lost assets in the tsunami should be required to pay back something of what they receive in assistance; or they should never be required to pay anything back

Transparency & Accountability

  • Three agencies presented about corruption – what is it, what systems are in place to avoid it, what agencies should do to avoid it, or when it arises in the course of their programmes. A representative of BAPEL (the body coordinating the government’s tsunami rehabilitation and recovery process) talked about the work of BAPEL, a speaker from GERAK – a local NGO investigating and campaigning against corruption within international and national organizations talked about GERAK’s work, and a speaker from the World-bank funded KDP (district development programme) explained how the programme addresses and minimizes corruption through community empowerment – promoting village justice.

Conflict-sensitive programming

  • Agencies working in Aceh in the tsunami recovery process have to work against a backdrop of past conflict and intermittent incidents relating to conflict. This session guided agencies on the implications of working in such an environment, and on conflict-sensitive principles. Partnerships and processes, which can help agencies working in such an environment, were recommended – a key point being informing the community about the intervention that is being planned, and involving them in discussions about how the intervention process and approach.

Final discussion topics

  • Corruption and conflict – perspectives from international and local organizations on how to minimize risk of both corruption and conflict
  • Grants or loans – advantages and disadvantages of both were discussed.

Issues for further work

  • A list of topics that should be taken forward in another forum were drawn up.

References mentioned during the workshop are listed – with links to website URLs. Additional resources not available on the website are available in an attachment that accompanies the minutes.


This workshop brought together participants from 21 organizations (UN, INGO, LNGOs, government). The aim was to identify key agencies in Aceh who would have useful experience to contribute about any kind of cash intervention. The agenda was developed through discussions with the ODI project steering committee and was based on selecting agencies whose interventions illustrate good practice, experimentation, innovation, and other speakers to present on relevant issues which required input from experts.

UNDP, Aceh, Indonesia,