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Final monitoring report of the Somalia cash and voucher transfer programme - Phase 1: September 2011–March 2012

Research reports

This report presents the findings of Phase 1 of a monitoring exercise of a unique partnership, the Cash and Voucher Monitoring Group (CVMG),  involving 14 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) providing cash-based interventions in response to famine and humanitarian emergency in South Central Somalia. It was the first large-scale cash-based response to be implemented in Somalia, and – at a global level – the first non-governmental emergency cash-based programme on this scale.

At the time the project was being planned there were four main risks associated with large-scale cash-based interventions in Somalia: 

  1. Whether NGOs would be able to gain access to the populations most in need since many of these areas were controlled by Al Shabaab;

  2. Whether the cash would be diverted by Al Shabaab and other authorities and local militias through taxation, intimidation and extortion; 

  3. Whether the market would be able to supply the quantities of food needed to meet the increase in demand stimulated by a large injection of cash; 

  4. Whether the cash/voucher distribution would lead to inflation.

In view of the risks involved, a joint CVMG monitoring exercise was established, managed by an independent organisation, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and undertaken together with the international and local NGO partners.

Key lessons and recommendations:

  1. Cash and vouchers can be delivered at scale, even given remote management and access limitation, provided that appropriate checks and balances are put in place to ensure transparency and accountability in targeting and cash distribution.

  2. Functioning, efficient markets and the hawala system were key factors that allowed for scaling up. However, detailed guidance on setting up and negotiating hawala contracts is needed.

  3. One of the voucher projects was able to scale up very effectively and very quickly, providing an innovative approach to food delivery in remote rural areas where essential food items were not previously available.

  4. Large-scale, collaborative monitoring can be done in a complex, conflict-affected environment, though constant attention needs to be given to improving it.

  5. A feedback/complaints system and independent monitoring are crucial in picking up cases of diversion and taxation.

  • CVMG Final monitoring report of the Somalia cash and voucher transfer programme - Phase I

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Catherine Longley, Sophia Dunn and Mike Brewin