Economic security & cash transfers
Economic security is defined as the capacity of a person, household or community to meet their essential needs in a sustainable and dignified manner. Apart from food and shelter, clothes and hygiene are considered to be essential goods which incur unavoidable expenditure. In addition, there are the resources that are necessary to earn a living, and the cost of healthcare and education. Numerous programmes therefore aim to reinforce economic security, among which are cash transfer programmes.
For a long time, aid actors have been applying a multitude of approaches to reinforce the economic security of households and communities (capacity building, micro-credit, etc.). Though these are developed in crisis situations, they are generally oriented towards reinforcing people’s resilience based on their internal capacities.
Cash transfers are a specific form of aid aimed at poor and vulnerable households which allows them to decide their own priorities to meet their basic needs. Though the main goal of cash transfers is to reduce immediate poverty and vulnerability in an emergency situation, in protracted crisis or post-crisis contexts, they are aimed at restoring livelihoods.
This new form of aid will probably transform the architecture of the aid system. These changes (which may be positive, but may also be negative) need to be analysed and monitored over time, without overlooking the other methods of reinforcing economic security which may prove to be more appropriate in certain contexts.