Cash, vouchers or in-kind? Guidance on evaluating how transfers are made in emergency programming

Levine, S. and Bailey, S.
Date published
28 Feb 2015
Tools, guidelines and methodologies
Evaluation-related, Leadership and Decisionmaking
Overseas Development Institute

The choice of how to transfer assistance – whether through in-kind aid, cash or vouchers – to people in crises may be an important decision. In order to constantly improve practice, the humanitarian community needs evidence about the diverse impacts of different choices. In order to ensure that the best decisions are made, evidence is also needed about the decision-making processes that lead to these choices. However, evaluations of these interventions have rarely examined this choice, and no explicit guidance exists for evaluators on how to examine the decision or the decision-making process. This guidance is a first attempt to fill that gap, with the aim both of encouraging evaluators to give more explicit attention to the choice of transfer and also providing some assistance on how this can be examined.

This guidance offers a set of questions about the choice of transfer that can be incorporated into an evaluation (or monitoring) of an intervention that transferred resources to people or households, whether provided as cash, vouchers and/or in-kind. It prompts an evaluation to examine explicitly how the decision on the type of transfer was made and the appropriateness of this choice at the time, and how that choice influenced the effectiveness, cost and impact of the intervention.