8 March 2012 - As one million children face severe acute malnutrition in the Sahel, Cash Based Interventions are becoming one of the most effective ways for humanitarian aid organisations to alleviate the impact of the approaching food crisis.
Action Against Hunger’s cash for work programmes, food voucher distributions and direct cash transfers are providing thousands of families across Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad with the means to increase their independence and self-sufficiency to provide food for their children with dignity.
Action Against Hunger’s head of food security, Julien Jacob, says: “Food crises are usually not about the availability of food, but rather about economic access to food in markets. Cash interventions are a relatively new approach for aid organisations and assume that the people we assist are the best placed to decide what their needs are and should be able to choose what they require according to their priorities, which increases their dignity. Another advantage is that prioritising cash interventions supports the local economy and regenerates markets.
“It is necessary to study each situation individually so we implement the most appropriate form of intervention, and take precautions to avoid distorting markets. We need to carefully select the people who receive cash transfers, and it tends to be more effective to give them to women because it usually ensures that the money is spent on food and nutrition for their children,” continues Julien.
Action Against Hunger’s cash for work programmes provide paid employment for local people whilst improving local infrastructure, for e.g. building roads. However these programmes are often not available for the most vulnerable families such as those unable to perform active labor, or widows.
For these families cash transfers are a better option. These allow households to purchase local items which suit their needs and can help stimulate local markets and economic recovery. They are also flexible, and can be used by families to address multiple issues, such as paying for medical treatment and purchasing livestock as well as buying food, allowing households to reclaim their independence and self-sufficiency with dignity. Advice and support is always provided.
Finally, food vouchers are distributed to the most vulnerable, which are sometimes for a specific product, such as fruit and vegetables, to enhance micronutrient consumption in young children.
At the heart of all Cash Based programmes is the essential shift in power from the benefactor to the household. The autonomy of cash programmes creates a much more dignified and respectful form of aid. They empower the household, and in doing so, help families to build the resilience that is requires to make lasting improvements to their livelihoods.
Action Against Hunger operates Cash Based Interventions where and when appropriate, bearing in mind that other forms of humanitarian response are sometimes a better option. Cash Based Interventions are currently in operation across the worst affected countries of the Sahel crisis in Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad.
SUPPORT ACF's RESPONSE CAPABILITIES
Action Against Hunger's life-saving programmes around the world depend on the generous support of our donors. Donate Now
Stay informed about Action Against Hunger's cutting-edge solutions to child hunger.