Health and Human Rights Program Director Julie Freccero and Researcher Audrey Whiting presented their research findings on protection risks associated with cash assistance programs at a three-day workshop—the “Safer Cash Toolkit Design Workshop”— hosted by the International Rescue Committee this week. Even as global aid agencies are increasingly giving cash to people affected by humanitarian crises, a significant lack of research exists about the protection risks of these programs for vulnerable people.
Freccero and Whiting worked with local research teams to conduct focus-group discussions and interviews with internally displaced people receiving cash in the conflict-affected areas of Afghanistan, where people are threatened by the Taliban and ISIS, and Cameroon, where many have fled violence by Boko Haram. They sought to understand the protection risks, barriers, and preferences related to delivering cash to the most vulnerable groups in these contexts.
Freccero and Whiting are interested in how to make cash programs safer for vulernable groups, such as the elderly, young women at risk of abduction by armed groups, female heads of households, and people with disabilities. They found, for example, that women and people with disabilities are often too scared to travel far to get the cash and instead send intermediaries—a practice that can lead to theft.
Using preliminary findings, Freccero and Whiting worked with more than 25 global experts on cash assistance programs attending the workshop to create a tool kit to help practitioners design and monitor programs that provide cash to refugees and internally displaced people. They hope to ensure that cash- based interventions are designed and implementing in ways that mitigate and avoid creating further protection risks and strengthen resilience for cash recipients.