Cash and Information Management


Cash and vouchers are a modality for delivering emergency assistance that is growing in popularity. There is increased interest across the humanitarian community and the donor community in using cash and vouchers to address the needs of affected communities. Cash interventions allow the beneficiary community to make decisions for themselves about what their priority needs are. This approach empowers the affected community, supports the local markets, and can support existing government systems.
Along with the opportunities of cash and vouchers come some challenges for the response community. In certain contexts, cash and vouchers challenge the normal way of doing business for the humanitarian community. And Cash Programming requires a serious commitment to data privacy and security for those implementing it. Serious thought must be given to how the data you are working with can impact affected communities. In their coordination role, for IMOs in OCHA much of the work should look familiar when it comes to tracking and reporting the response.

Broadly speaking, the work of the IMO will need to track aspects of cash and vouchers such as type, methods, implementing organization, sectors affected, beneficiary groups, and locations. The terminology used to describe cash and voucher activities is outlined in the glossary of the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP). Below are a few important terms to be familiar with:

Restriction: Restriction refers to limits on the use of assistance by recipients. Restrictions apply to the range of goods and services that the assistance can be used to purchase, and the places where it can be used. The degree of restriction may vary – from the requirement to buy specific items, to buying from a general category of goods or services.
Vouchers are restricted by default since they are inherently limited in where and how they can be used. In-kind assistance is also restricted. Cash transfers are unrestricted in terms of use by recipients.

Note that restrictions are distinct from conditions, which apply only to activities that must be fulfilled in order to receive assistance:
Conditional transfer: A conditional transfer requires beneficiaries to undertake a specific action/activity (e.g. attending school, building a shelter, attending nutrition screenings, undertaking work, trainings, etc.) in order to receive assistance; i.e. a condition must be fulfilled before the transfer is received. Cash for Work/Cash for Assets/Cash for Training are all forms of conditional transfer.
Unconditional transfer: Unconditional transfers are provided to beneficiaries without the recipient having to do anything in return in order to receive the assistance.

Multipurpose cash transfers (MPC): This is a type of assistance “explicitly designed to address multiple needs on a cross-sectoral basis through a cash transfer” (Cash Learning Partnership Glossary, Dec. 2018). Cash transfers are inherently unrestricted, meaning each transfer can be spent as recipients choose; and potentially address multiple needs, or from a humanitarian agency’s perspective, achieve multiple programme objectives. As such, MPC does not neatly fit in one sector.


Who does What Where (3W)
The 3W reporting schedule, as well as one data entry template should be agreed upon between the Information Management Working Group and the Cash Working Group, if there is one. A proposed data entry template, which was approved by the Global Clusters, is available below.
Refer to the “How to report 3Ws” document for recommended reporting flows.
The IMO will need to determine if the 3W product covers all activities or is focused only on cash and voucher related programmes.
Please find examples of Cash Related 3Ws here.

Visualization/ Maps
The visualization of the Cash related interventions follows the same standards as other OCHA products. Representing the programmes is a familiar role for IMOs and will not differ greatly from previous work. The locations, beneficiary populations, quantities, and totals are core elements in representing the activities.
Link to Examples.
Link to humanitarian icons with Cash options included.

Standards for Cash related data exchange are being developed in HXL.
An example of the use of cash-related HXL tags can be found here.  


Essential Reading: