Cash transfer programming – Make beneficiaries an integral part of the humanitarian response

One Sri-Lankan handles a shovel in front of house under construction.
The logic behind the cash transfer programming is that people affected by war or natural disasters best know their own needs. © SDC

Cash transfer programming (CTP) enables victims of natural or man-made disasters to purchase items to meet their individual needs through the provision of cash. SDC uses CTP both as an immediate emergency aid and in shelter rehabilitation and livelihood restoration.

SDC focus

The distribution of cash to host families who take in refugees or the provision of construction materials from local markets in the aftermath of an earthquake are just two examples of cash transfer programming in the activities of Swiss Humanitarian Aid (SHA).

From 1998 to 2016, experts from the SHA Unit implemented more than 29 CTP projects in 29 countries. These activities contributed to meeting the basic need for a livelihood, shelter, water and sanitation, and food of people affected by war or natural disasters.

CTP is one form of humanitarian response. It is based on the principle that people affected by war or natural disasters best know their own needs. Through the distribution of cash or vouchers, CTP gives them the possibility to purchase food, water and other humanitarian items that the beneficiaries themselves can choose.

Including local assets in humanitarian actions

Although basic goods such as food and water can often be purchased on local markets, donors and aid agencies have often given priority to the shipment of tons of aid materials to crisis-affected regions from their own country. In most cases this has a negative impact on the local economy as local merchants are faced with a huge influx of free goods and items that they cannot compete with.

CTP however includes local vendors and markets in humanitarian efforts. By shifting the place of purchase from the global to local market, it enables shop-owners or local famers to keep running their businesses despite all the suffering created by war or natural disasters. Relying on existing service providers and encouraging local solutions can also facilitate the transition to recovery. Finally, CTP reduces logistical costs both in terms of time and money as the delivery of humanitarian items does not involve long distances.

Careful planning and analysis of the market and beneficiaries are key to a successful CTP project. Besides a functioning market, a reliable system of payments must be available where CTP is applied. Most importantly, beneficiaries and the communities concerned must agree with this aid modality.


The SHA strongly advocates for the increased use of CTP in emergency situations while underlining the challenges related to ensuring the good quality of cash programs.

Despite widespread recognition of its relevance, the use of CTP by humanitarian agencies remains relatively low compared to more traditional ways of assistance such as in-kind distribution. For this reason, SHA and the Cash Learning Partnership (CALP) are working together to disseminate knowledge about the use of this methodology among humanitarian practitioners, develop training materials, and explore further techniques in the use of CTP, especially with new technologies.

To support its multilateral partners in the implementation of CTP projects, experts from the SHA Unit are deployed to the UN’s main partners such as WFP and UNHCR. Similar support can be offered by SHA to Swiss or international NGOs.


Object 61 – 72 of 1052

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01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

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01.01.2024 - 31.12.2031

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Participation des femmes dans le processus de paix, de sécurité et de relèvement au Mali

31.12.2023 - 31.03.2031

La Suisse s’engage au Mali pour une participation plus significative des femmes dans le processus de paix. Par l’intermédiaire de ONU-Femmes, les soutiens directs à des initiatives de la société civile malienne seront complétés par la réalisation du Plan d’Action National pour la mise en œuvre de la Résolution 1325 de l’ONU, concernant la participation de femmes dans les processus de paix et les garanties de sécurité. Le programme contribue ainsi à la stabilisation de la sous-région

Strengthening regional cooperation on migration in the Western Balkans

01.11.2023 - 31.12.2027

In light of diversifying migration patterns and challenges with increasing regional dimensions, the migration policy priorities of Western Balkan governments are changing and the relevance of regional dialogue, coordination and cooperation is growing. This proposal seeks to promote coherent and effective regional governance of migration in all its multifaceted dimensions contributing to greater social cohesion and regional integration in the Western Balkans.

Programme d’appui à la commercialisation du bétail en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2028

Dans la région ouest africaine, le secteur de l’élevage est une grande opportunité d’intégration économique et de création de richesses pour les populations et les pays. En complément au soutien au secteur dans les pays prioritaires, ce programme vise le renforcement de la chaine de valeur régionale des produits animaux au profit des éleveurs. L’accent est mis sur le renforcement du secteur privé et l’amélioration des politiques et pratiques régionales d’échanges en  produits animaux.

Global Measurement of Diet Quality

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2025

Diets are the number one risk factor in the global burden of disease and multiple forms of malnutrition co-exist with overweight and obesity being the fastest growing form, particularly among poor populations in developing countries. Routinely collected information on Diet Quality is necessary to better understand dietary trends, help to create awareness, and inform policies to improve diets and health outcomes. Therefore, SDC supports an international initiative to develop diet quality measurements.

Financement des fonds agricoles nationaux du Bénin (FinAgri)

01.12.2022 - 30.11.2030

Au Bénin, il n’existe pas de dispositif national pour le financement du secteur agricole (agriculteurs, éleveurs, artisans et entreprises agricoles). Par la présente initiative, la DDC veut soutenir l’Etat béninois et le secteur privé dans la mise en place des dispositifs communs et pérennes de financement du secteur. Le but est de renforcer la productivité, la compétitivité des productions agricoles et la résilience des systèmes de productions aux effets des variations climatiques.

Ashshash: for men and women who have escaped trafficking

18.11.2022 - 28.02.2029

20,000 people (of whom 70% women) who have experienced trafficking will be economically and socially rehabilitated. Public and private institutions will provide employment or in-kind support for entrepreneurship to men and women who have escaped trafficking. The Government will better address the prevention of trafficking, protection of victims, prosecution of traffickers in the revision and enacting of policies, and create partnerships, for bringing about systemic changes.

Soutien au Dispositif National de Sécurité Alimentaire -PRESA-

01.07.2022 - 31.12.2025

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Promoting physical activity and healthy diet through regulatory measures (ProPDR)

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2023

Non-communicable diseases constitute one of the major global health challenges today. Unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are the main causes of obesity and related morbidities. The adaptation of national regulatory and legislative frameworks is critical for the prevention and control of Non-communicable diseases. This initiative strives to strengthen capacity and expertise of low- and middle income countries to implement legal and regulatory measures.

Sustainable Natural Resources Management (NRM) for Enhanced Pastoralist Food Security in the Borana Zone, Ethiopia.

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2027

Natural resources, particularly water and pasture, are among the key determinants of pastoralist livelihoods’ sustainability. The proposed Project contributes to the outcomes of the SDC’s Food Security Domain as stipulated in the Swiss Cooperation Strategy Horn of Africa. It aims at improving pastoralist food security and adaptive capacities in the lowlands of Borana Zone, Southern Ethiopia, through enhancing the sustainable management of natural resources.

Object 61 – 72 of 1052

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