Cash Transfers in South Sudan Crisis


Danish Church Aid (DCA) has been working amid the worsening South Sudan crisis, and including unconditional cash transfers as one of its tools to address the situation:

More than 4.8 million people are deemed severely food insecure. In a country that imports 80% of its food, has almost no formal financial institutions, 700% yearly inflation and a deepening crisis in law and order, humanitarian action is facing a true test of strength. Access is curtailed by armed groups, politics and impassable roads. Some areas can only be reached by helicopter or after more than six hours of walking from a landing strip. The hardest-to-reach areas require incredibly expensive food-drop programmes to meet even the most basic needs.

There is an increasing push from aid organizations like DCA to address the needs via cash transfers directly to those affected (e.g. Nepal Red CrossWorld Bank).  And although DCA has used cash transfers for years, they’ve recently moved to unconditional cash transfers, for several reasons:

  • faster to set up,
  • more responsive to broad needs
  • work better with very mobile population

In their report on the Sudan crisis, DCA also makes clear that cash transfers only work where markets are functioning:

In a place like South Sudan, where basic services are few and far between, you cannot really buy access to healthcare or clean water. Money also usually cannot buy you protection from the gunmen and rampant violence that plague South Sudan. So, cash transfer programmes are by no means a silver bullet.

For rapid data collection, DCA relies on Magpi on android tablets, collecting market data, as well as baseline data on food insecurity at the household level, and also data on how satisfied families are with the distribution process, how they used the funding, etc.

The data is then analyzed in near real-time using Magpi’s built in reporting and visualization functions, allow DCA to react quickly to any trends, and “if needed changes can be made before the next distribution.”  A perfect example of using the proliferation of mobile, and real-time analysis tools, to make humanitarian response faster and better.

Read more about this and other work by Magpi user organization DCA at their website.

mobile data collection for assessing cash transfers

People queuing with their cash vouchers outside a bank in South Sudan. © Dauda Koroma/Oxfam

Read about conditional vs. unconditional cash transfers in an evaluation by Innovations for Poverty Action.

World Bank blogs about unconditional cash transfers.

Read more news about the South Sudan crisis.

Study: Improving Performance of Polio Programs

Systematic accountability frameworks are central to improving program performance through close monitoring of selected activities. The World Health Organization monitored the Nigeria polio program using Magpi, and used the resulting real-time data to drive positive changes in staff and outcomes.

Download the Study