After days of talks, the World Humanitarian Summit’s Grand Bargain listed as its third recommendation: “Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming.” But even as cash transfers continue to gain support, as Nikita Lalwani and Sam Winter-Levy uncovered in their long-form feature in The New Republic, some in the aid sector are pushing back.


1. Want to Save the World? Try Using Cold Hard Cash.
The New Republic, Nikita Lalwani and Sam Winter-Levy, May 24, 2016
One afternoon in the spring of 2008, two graduate students, Michael Faye and Rohit Wanchoo, met with a Harvard Business School professor in an office in Cambridge. They had a simple idea for a charity: Instead of giving poor people food or cattle or loans to start a business, why not simply give them cash? Eight years later, their idea has become GiveDirectly, a multimillion-dollar nonprofit that donates money directly, via mobile payment services, to poor people in Kenya and Uganda. In 2015, the organization raised more than $50 million.

2. Ending extreme poverty is possible, and this chart proves it
Vox, Dylan Matthews, May 24, 2016
But cash is a hugely powerful development tool. The charity GiveDirectly, which gives cash unconditionally to poor Kenyans and Ugandans, found that giving grants averaging $707 not only didn’t discourage recipients from working but actually led to them earning $200 more, an astonishing 28 percent rate of return. Another study in Uganda found rates of return of 30 to 49 percent.

3. A basic income pilot, the history of the gene, and the future of transportation
TED Blog, Cynthia Betubiza, Rebekah Barnett, and Kat Torgovinck May, May 23, 2016
Too often, humanitarian aid donations of food and materials, while well-intentioned, aren’t what the recipients actually need. But what about a different approach: giving people a basic income to spend however they like. GiveDirectly has announced plans for a pilot program for 6,000 rural Kenyans living in extreme poverty: cash transfers for 10 years, no strings attached. (The recipients, and the exact locations, are still being decided.) “Studies show school attendance and access to healthcare significantly improve when people receive cash. Recipients also tend to save or invest the money, which promotes income generation instead of reliance on food aid,” Lin Taylor writes for the Thomson Reuters Foundation News.


4. LEAP to pay 148K households
GhanaWeb, May 24, 2016
The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) Programme under the Ministry of Children, Gender and Social Protection is set to begin its 42nd payment cycle. The LEAP grants for March and April 2016 are expected to be given to a total of one hundred and forty-seven thousand, nine hundred and one (147,901) beneficiary households in 185 districts.

5. Can cash lead the revolution that the humanitarian system so badly needs?
Reuters, Garry Conille, May 21, 2016
Cash transfer programming – where people affected by disasters or crises receive direct transfer payments that can either be spent where, how, and when the recipient chooses, or are tied to specific conditions such as food or shelter – has gone through something of a revolution over the past decade. It has moved from its origins in cash-for-work schemes and vouchers to a sophisticated way of giving people the power to make their own choices about how to meet their immediate relief and recovery needs. But it still represents just six per cent of humanitarian aid, despite the growing calls for cash to replace the costly and inefficient commodities-based approach to disaster response and relief.

6. The World Humanitarian Summit is an opportunity to enact reform and deliver better, evidence-based aid
Devex, David Miliband, May 20, 2016
A well-known example is that a substantial body of evidence now shows cash transfers to be significantly more effective than a distribution of the goods we think someone wants. Giving people money helps them buy essential items specific to their needs and families. In some contexts, cash has been proven to help families raise their income so they can send their children to school rather than work; it contributes to the local host economy. Yet cash accounts for only 6 percent of the overall humanitarian aid budget.


7. ​Will Switzerland give every adult $2,500 a month?
CNN Money, Ivana Kottasova, May 24, 2016
The country is holding a national referendum on the introduction of a basic income on June 5. Its supporters want the government to guarantee each person a monthly after-tax income of at least 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,520). Those in work and earning less than that would have their pay topped up. Those out of work would be handed the full amount.

8. Two thirds of the British public support a universal basic income, poll finds
The Independent, Jon Stone, May 23, 2016
An opinion study asked respondents what they thought of “an income unconditionally paid by the government to every individual regardless of whether they work and irrespective of any other sources of income”. Having it explained that the income “replaces other social security payments and is high enough to cover all basic needs”, 62 per cent of the UK population said it would support such a policy.

9. A Nobel Prize winner in economics just backed basic income
Tech Insider, Chris Weller, May 18, 2016
Basic income is having a whirlwind year, and it was just galvanized even further by the support of Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel Prize winner for Economics. At a universal basic income forum in Taiwan’s capital on May 19, Deaton encouraged governments to consider lifting the financial burden on low-income citizens with basic income grants, the Taipei Times reports.

10. India’s time for unconditional cash transfers
Financial Express, Renana Jhabvala, May 17, 2016
Basic income is a social policy whose time has come, and it needs to be seriously examined as an option for India. A basic income is a cash transfer, which is paid to individuals. It is unconditional; the beneficiaries do not have to fulfil any conditions or demonstrate appropriate behaviour in order to get the grant. It is regular, so that people know it is coming at intervals and can depend on it. In most literature on basic income, it is universal and is paid to all citizens.

Back to List