LSE Students Investigate Environmental Issues in Cash Transfer Programming

BY EDM | 09 JAN 2017
How are cash transfers impacting the environment?
In the last decade an increasing number of humanitarian agencies have adopted cash transfer programming (CTP). We know little however about environmental issues related to this practice. The UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit (JEU), Global Shelter Cluster (GSC) Environment Community of Practice (ECoP) and the Cash Working Group (CWG) are therefore collaborating with students at the London School of Economics (LSE) to learn more about CTP environmental implications in a project titled “Looking through an environmental lens: Implications and opportunities associated with Cash Transfer Programming in humanitarian response”. The students are researching the environmental implications and opportunities associated with CTP being used at a greater scale, specifically in shelter and settlement programs—issues that must be considered in relation to humanitarian principles such as “do no harm” and “build back safer”.


Environmental implications of in-kind assistance

Traditionally, humanitarian agencies largely provide in-kind contributions (e.g., in the form of food, medicine, tools, and shelter construction materials). The practices of direct transfers of money or vouchers to communities (cash transfer programming, CTP) has however grown significantly in importance over the last decade.

[cml_media_alt id='1428']1_cash_transfer_infographic_narrative_web2_ODI[/cml_media_alt]Source: Overseas Development Institute (ODI), “Twitter chat: give cash, not stuff”, (2015).

Common environmental issues associated with in-kind assistance can include:

-Material sourcing (e.g., raw material extraction)

-Transportation and packaging of aid

-Disposal of packaging materials

-Disruption of local markets and livelihoods (e.g., farmers, small businesses)

The different forms of CTP (such as un/conditional, un/restricted, multi-purpose) offer more flexibility in spending and therefore environmental implications are potentially significant.


Student partnership investigates environmental impacts of CTP

The research partnership will investigate potential environmental implications, but also opportunities that could be linked to the use of CTP in different scenarios and forms. The report will include an in-depth case study on the shelter sector as a key consumer of natural resource commodities. To inform the report and bring this topic to a wider audience, the partners will organize an interactive session at the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (6 to 10 February 2017, Geneva) and at the Environment and Emergencies Forum (EEF). The study results will also be shared widely throughout the shelter and cash communities through assorted Global Shelter Cluster fora, the UK Shelter Forum and the OCHA-chaired Cash Working Group. The final report will be added to the Cash Learning Platform.

For more information about the project contact Charles Kelly at [email protected]


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