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Breaking the Barriers: Empowering Local NGOs in Cash Transfer Programming

Underpinning the Collaborative Cash Delivery Network's localisation programme lies a key question: local and international NGOs alike tell us they want to partner more equally – so how can we best help them do it?


We have found that barriers exist at every level, from the assumptions agencies make about one another to the sheer volume of work that makes it harder for country-level staff to innovate.


But alongside this, there are practical barriers. One that we've identified is the lack of a streamlined and rigorous process for assessing partners' capacity to deliver cash programmes themselves. As a result, agencies default to a traditional, inequitable partnership model, where activities such as registration and post-distribution monitoring are outsourced to a local partner. At the same time, International NGOs (INGOs) carry out cash transfers themselves. This prevents the local NGO from gaining cash programmatic experience, locking them into a vicious cycle of inequitable programming.


To address this, we've brought together five INGOs—Action Against Hunger, Concern, Oxfam, Save the Children, and World Vision—to develop harmonised approaches to cash transfer programming and due diligence. Both tools are focused on responding to first-phase emergencies, although we anticipate their value in longer-term responses.


With the DEC's Collective Initiatives programme funding, we worked with all five agencies to consolidate their tools and understand their practices. When we found that relatively few of these agencies had formal tools, we looked more broadly at wider sector standards such as CaLP's OCRT and tools used by other INGOs. The final tool draws particularly heavily on Catholic Relief Service's Partner Capacity Assessment Tool—a more detailed and nuanced tool used for preparedness and longer-term programming.


In November 2023, we shared a draft tool with various agencies for feedback. After incorporating their suggestions, we unveiled the final version of the tool in January 2024. We plan to pilot the tool throughout 2024 and will work closely with country and HQ teams to test it in practice. In Ukraine, where we have a significant presence as CCD, we will be implementing the tool immediately. The Global Cash Trainer of Trainers and Local Community of Practice lead will collaborate with agencies to identify learning opportunities and support partners in taking on more direct programming.


In the medium term, the benefits are potentially even greater. By using the same assessment approach, agencies could work together – either independently, through the CCD, or through other groupings such as the Cash Working Group – to develop joint capacity building, allowing it to cover more complex topics and creating economies of scale. Other future plans could include passporting of assessments, or supporting local NGOs to access capacity building directly – rather than going through INGO partners. Both of these are changes that local NGOs have consistently asked for, and which would fundamentally change the balance of power in the system.


Find out more about our cash capacity assessment and the accompanying due diligence harmonisation project here


Written by Laura Gordon, Project Design Lead.

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