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What is Cash-Based Interventions (CBI's)?

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by Impactpool

At Impactpool, we have an occupational group called "Cash-Based Interventions", sometimes seen in job titles as CBI. This should not be confused with another abbreviation CBI (compentency based interviews). Yes, in the humanitarian/development and impact sectors we have to deal with various Jargons. But that is why we have the Impactpool Career Resources, to make sure that we break down all the information that could cause confusion, and sometimes, just as a source of information. Perhaps, you might find this occupational group interesting after reading more about what it entails and what positive impact organizations are currently doing using this methodology. 

Image Source: © UNHCR/ A. Kirchhof

A ‘cash-based intervention' is any intervention in which cash or vouchers for goods or services are provided to refugees and other persons of concern (PoC) either as individuals or as representatives of a community.

Note. Cash or vouchers that are provided to governments or other state actors, or to humanitarian workers or service providers, are not CBIs. The terms CBI, ‘cash-based transfer' and ‘cash transfer programming' are interchangeable.

UNHCR on Cash Based Interventions


In a joint press release in 2018, OCHA, UNHCR, WFP and UNICEFengaged in discussions on cash-based assistance as one of the most significant reforms in humanitarian assistance in recent years, one that helps (them) to better serve affected populations in a principled and dignified manner and gives them a greater decision-making role in their own lives interrupted by conflict and natural disasters.” Read the full statement including the different points the organizations agree on delivering. 

Here are the types of CBI's according to UNHCR (Please note that the different Organizations have different methodologies and approaches). 


Why are most International Organizations moving towards Cash-Based Interventions?


Human Rights does not discriminate against one based on their race, age, gender, disability, health, and certainly not their economic situation. Many affected by emergencies live in environments amongst communities with access to goods and services. Cash and vouchers, where feasible, are used to address a range of needs in  a more dignified way of assisting affected populations, as they empower people to determine their own needs and the best way of meeting them. They are used to provide access to food, water, health care and other services, build and support livelihoods, support shelter needs, and facilitate return and reintegration. 


"When people are forced to flee their homes, they leave with the bare essentials. They also lose their ability to earn and spend in the process. Our cash-based interventions (CBIs) seek to protect refugees by reducing the risks they face and to maintain their capacity to spend. CBIs can be used in a variety of settings, as long as there is a stable market and a safe way to provide refugees with cash or vouchers. Cash-based interventions make the displaced less likely to resort to harmful coping strategies, such as survival sex, child labour, family separation and forced marriage. They also directly benefit the local economy and can contribute to peaceful coexistence with host communities" - UNHCR.


Image Source: UNHCR 


“Cash-based interventions are used to deliver assistance to meet project objectives and assessed needs, across a variety of sectors in response to crises, and as a means to achieve project outcomes. They can be used as modalities to meet the needs of a single sector (e.g WASH) or needs across multiple sectors (e.g. food, shelter and water). CBI should therefore not be considered as a programme or sector of humanitarian assistance in themselves.” - IOM Emergency Manual


Technical/Functional Skills to work in Cash-Based Interventions's

• A broad understanding of community-based approaches and capacity development in cash and voucher programming and market analysis;
• Demonstrated work experience in project/program planning, design of emergency and resilience projects/programs
• Good judgment, initiative, high sense of responsibility, organization and analytical skills;
• Capacity to work independently and establish good relationships with staff and external partners;
• Creativity and problem solving skills;
• Flexibility and ability to work under stress;
• Ability to work in a multicultural environment;
• Knowledge of major humanitarian assistance issues and challenges


Hopefully this was a brief introduction to Cash-Based Interventions. We have included links from where most of this information is taken from, including links to more reading materials and reports by our partner Organizations that use this methodology. We hope to have one of our partner organizations share more about the specificities of working with Cash-Based Interventions. 

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