Humanitarian cash transfers in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Working and discussion papers
April 2017

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is at a crossroads with regard to cash transfers.

On the one hand, cash has been accepted by most donors and aid agencies as an appropriate response, with solid evidence underpinning its use. Aid agencies have driven important innovations in an environment where moving money around is extremely challenging, and in doing so they have significantly increased the flexibility of humanitarian assistance for a large number of people. On the other hand, humanitarian strategy and leadership have largely been catching up to these developments more than encouraging them. Cash transfers are largely driven by champions, rather than being a standard response in DRC, and aid agencies still have work to do to embed cash transfers within their systems and cultures. 

Humanitarian response in DRC has the necessary elements to expand cash transfers where they are appropriate – including support from donors, increasing organisational capacity and growing private sector engagement. In order to promote the use of cash transfers in DRC, strategy and funding instruments need to proactively support cash where it is appropriate, and donors and aid agencies need to continue efforts to build capacity.

Humanitarian cash transfers in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of a series of case studies building on the work of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers. The Panel concluded that cash transfers are not used enough in humanitarian responses and not used in ways that take advantage of their transformative potential.