Evidence and practice review of the use of cash transfers in contexts of acute food insecurity

Boulinaud M. and Ossandon, M.
Publication language
Date published
23 Jan 2023
Impact evaluation
Cash-based transfers (CBT), Food and nutrition, Food security
Nigeria, Somalia, Syria
Key Aid Consulting, Key Aid Consulting

Hunger affects 10% of the global population, with the rate of undernutrition having increased by 150 million people from 2019 to 2022 as a result of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic (the “three Cs”). Projections of undernourishment indicate that by 2030, 670 million people will be undernourished. As the three Cs impact global hunger, there has been an attempt to shift the paradigm of food security interventions by prioritising a systems approach that addresses the root causes of food insecurity and builds resilience.    The volume of cash and voucher assistance (CVA) has increased in the past six years, reaching 6.7 billion USD in 2021.

However, the growth rate of funding has been stalling. Despite the increase in the acceptance of CVA, a large portion of which is dedicated to preventing the further deterioration of food security and helping to improve it, there is inconsistency in the choice of modalities, application and general practices across contexts facing acute food insecurity. The use of CVA to meet food security outcomes continues to fall short of its potential.   There is therefore room to explore the untapped and/or underused potential of cash transfers, and strengthen evidence of the use of cash transfers for food security outcomes in contexts of acute food insecurity. These contexts are those with Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) or Cadre Harmonisé (CH) levels 3-5 and Consolidated Approach for Reporting Indicators of Food Security (CARI) levels moderate or severe.  

In light of this, the Global Food Security Cluster Cash and Market Working Group (gFSC CM WG) commissioned operational research to gather evidence and lessons learned in support of the use of cash for food security outcomes in contexts of acute food insecurity. For the sake of the research, these are defined as contexts in which IPC/Cadre Harmonisé (CH) Phase 3-5, or CARI moderate or severe (3 or 4), has been reported or projected in the last two years (between 2020 and 2022). This research uses Nigeria, Somalia and Syria as examples of acute food insecurity contexts.