Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cash back

"Many of the West Africans who are most vulnerable to high food prices live in urban areas such as Ouagadougou, Conakry and Douala, according to numerous assessments, and providing cash rather than food can work well in these settings.

“In cities agencies can use new mechanisms to get cash to people for instance through bank or post office accounts, or by using vouchers in local shops… this can sometimes be logistically easier than handing out food,” O’Donnell said.

Experts cite a number of other advantages to cash transfers over food. They allow people to make their own choices with no conditions, according to Rubin, giving recipients dignity. “We assume they know best and trust them to reduce their own vulnerability. We can step back and learn from them.”

I have been interested in this option for as long as I have been working in development, and that's a looong time. I have often made the point that if we had just distributed the money instead of implemented complex and complicated projects, the livelihood of the target populations would have probably been improved more than through development projects. But what about the livelihoods of the development specialists? I have an idea: give cash to the poor and in-kind payments to the consultants and development professional. See how they'll like it.

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