The High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers just launched its report “Doing cash differently: how can cash transfers transform humanitarian aid”. [See here for a podcast]. It is a good report. It argues that while not a panacea, giving cash is often better than giving stuff in humanitarian contexts. And it clearly says that it is a modality that empowers recipients and helps restore their dignity. Two big messages. One, today only 6% of humanitarian aid is delivered as cash and vouchers. This should increase. Appeals should have cash as the default modality. Important investments should be made in preparedness so that cash can be delivered quickly, when possible as part of existing social protection systems. Two, there are too many cooks in the humanitarian kitchen and scaling up cash transfers offers an opportunity for remodeling. Appeals with large cash schemes could shake up the cluster systems and create incentives for country teams to work across silos. The private sector could be in charge of delivery as much as possible so that humanitarian actors can focus on targeting, analyzing and monitoring.
We did a paper on cash for emergency-affected people earlier this year and messages align. We also argued that cash offers an opportunity for international organizations to not just do but also enable: just think of us supporting the creation of digital platforms to facilitate peer-to-peer cash transfers that contribute to people-led development. Such initiatives could be tested in countries with high level of exposure to disasters, existing remittance systems and good mobile penetration: that’s many countries.
The Open Budget Survey 2015 is also out. Conducted in 102 countries by independent local researchers it ranks country based on the quality of three budget features: transparency, participation, and oversight. Overall it is not great: ¾ of countries don’t share enough information with 20% of these giving none. The majority of countries does not engage the public in the budget process, and does not have appropriate oversight. Only 4 countries score well on the three fronts simultaneously: Brazil, Norway, South Africa and the United States [were you, like me, expecting a Scandinavian quartet?]. You can check ranking by country,here.
My map this week is from Max Galka’s “The global extremes of population density”. Unbelievable: the blue zone and red zone hold the same number of people. Each represents 5% of the global population. What’s red covers Bangladesh plus 3 Indian provinces. I am just returning from South Asia and indeed density matters: the 8-country region will account for about 23% of the world population through mid-century, this is some serious footprint for reaching any type of global goals.
My quote of the week is from Andrew Moravcsik’s [Anne-Marie Slaughter’s husband] “Why I put my wife’s career first”: “At the end of life, we know that a top regret of most men is that they did not lead the caring and connected life they wanted, but rather the career-oriented life that was expected of them. I will not have that regret.”