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Cash Transfers Give African Refugees Independence

Humanitarian organisations – such as the World Food Programme (WFP) – are increasingly using cash transfers as a way of assisting vulnerable people. They are widely praised for enhancing autonomy, reducing costs, and boosting local markets. And this has encouraged their use. For instance, in 2019, the WFP distributed US$2.1 billion transfers to 27.9 million people. Researcher reveals that the switch to unrestricted cash transfers had robust positive effects on household asset accumulation and subjective well-being. Unrestricted cash gave recipients the option to use their assistance on non-food necessities like clothing, cooking fuel, and school equipment for their children. Moreover, refugees could negotiate for more favourable prices with shopkeepers. Under the restricted programme, refugees could only purchase non-food items by first selling their food for cash, forcing them to sell at below-market prices.