Anticipatory action and cash transfers for rapid-onset hazards

Published 13. Feb 2023
The Asia-Pacific region has been at the global forefront of the anticipatory action agenda for sudden onset hazards such as floods and typhoons. Cash is rightly seen as an option to deliver effective, cost-efficient and timely assistance to vulnerable households within the short window of time for action through this anticipatory action approaches.

Anyone in the development or humanitarian sectors would acknowledge that delivering any forms of assistance within a 3–5-day period is challenging. It requires impeccable planning, process development, coordination, and clear communication with multiple actors at all levels, as well as with the targeted households. This is why cash is favoured over in-kind assistance to provide fast multisectoral support: it has minimal procurement, storage or transport issues.

But key questions remain around the impact on the ground and the optimal ratio of cash to in-kind support. These questions assume that in most anticipatory action interventions, there is a combination of modalities: cash, in-kind, services, or what is broadly referred to as Cash+. At the same time, it is acknowledged that in certain contexts, the cash component might not be applicable (for example, in cases where at-risk households state in pre-crisis surveys their preference for in-kind support).

This paper is the result of the collaboration between the Asia-Pacific Regional Cash Working Group (RCWG) and the Asia-Pacific Technical Working Group on Anticipatory Action (TWGAA). The two groups have joined forces to understand cash’s relationship with anticipatory action and come up with initial answers.

As the findings in this document – including from the consultative process with contributors – reveal a need for more research and technical guidance material until both cash and anticipatory action practitioners adopt common standards, this is merely an initial step. Periodic revisions to this note are expected, along with the development of supplementary materials. Readers are encouraged to field test the assumptions outlined in this document and provide feedback for revisions and the design of new guidance material for cash and anticipatory action practitioners.