The Free Exchange column in this week’s Economist discusses the work of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers. Here is the conclusion:

Cash does have its problems: in times of emergency, when shops are shut, it may be useless. But if those 20m refugees are to have any hope of a decent life, it should play a far bigger role.

You can read the full article online. Here’s a PDF of the article.

Read also my blog post on the panel report, and listen to this CGD podcast.

Published by Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and

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  1. Totally agree with the reasoning behind cash transfer to empower the underserved in general and, in this case, refugees. The Dutch Disease is an argument that cannot be valid at this disbursement quantities. I would add that cash transfers to communities and developing countries can also promote local economy and that it is more efficient in terms of purchasable goods considering local costs and their cash management capabilities. Cash transfers can also be used to empower different segments of society, such as women. Some CCT examples such as Progresa in Mexico show that making the mother of the household the recipient shifts the patriarchal dynamic towards a more equitable one. An interesting discussion to have is also around conditional cash transfers vs cash transfers.

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