The Advantages of Cash Transfers in South Sudan

ICCO provides emergency relief in South Sudan, a country racked by conflict and where famine threatens. In the village of Ogwazu, near the town of Torit, ICCO provides assistance in the form of cash.

The Advantages of Cash Transfers in South Sudan

Josephine Kulan, 35 and mother of five children, is one of the women in Ogwazu who receives money from ICCO and Kerk in Actie. In her community women do most of the work: they look after the children and farm the land. Women also control family spending. 

Josephine says she is very happy with cash transfers: “Food aid is of course wonderful, but different families have different needs. I have five growing children and would like to be able to spend a bit more on personal hygiene products. But my neighbor Damtilla el Hiwa is 50 and her children are grown up. She doesn’t have to work quite so hard, so she doesn’t really need food assistance, but she really wants a chair. That’s why it’s important for us to have some cash that we can spend as we see fit.”

Josephine’s ambition is to earn more money by making baskets and clothes that she can sell at the market. She also needs money to help her get started, so she can buy materials for example. This stimulates the local economy. 

Cash is mainly given to people who cannot earn an income easily, such as parents with young children, the elderly and disabled people. Other people in Ogwazu receive things like seeds and tools. 


Why cash instead of goods?

Cash transfers are help in the form of money, coupons or a digital financial contribution via a mobile phone network. These are becoming an increasing part of emergency relief, alongside food parcels, seed and tools.

A 2016 FAO and UNICEF publication on the impact of cash transfers in seven African countries revealed that cash transfers result in increased production and investments in inputs such as seed and fertilizer. People, especially small-scale farmers, also become on average 36 percent more productive in their work. 

Cash transfers have many advantages. Organizations don’t have to acquire goods and then store and distribute them. Emergency relief in the form of cash is therefore cheaper and more efficient. Working with cash also shows respect for people’s own self-reliance; people in emergency situations know best what they need. But there is one important condition: there must be a well-functioning local market. If this is not present, cash transfers are pointless. If there is a local market, cash can provide an important impetus for the local economy.

Dutch Relief Alliance

ICCO’s project is part of the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA), which was set up in 2014 to provide fast and effective emergency relief to the victims of international humanitarian crises. The DRA has sixteen members (listed below) and works in fifteen countries, including South Sudan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. The DRA works together with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which provides the funding. Each organization contributes its own emergency relief expertise, so the partners complement each other. 

Read more

The Guardian: Aid given in cash improves health and spurs school attendance, say researchers

DRA members: CARE Nederland, Cordaid, Dorcas, ICCO and Kerk in Actie, Oxfam Novib, Plan Nederland, Red een Kind, Save the Children, SOS Kinderdorpen, Tear, Terre des Hommes, Stichting Vluchteling, War Child, War Trauma Foundation, World Vision and ZOA. DRA partners with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
For more information: 

As of 1st January 2021 ICCO has joined forces with Cordaid and continues as one organization under the name Cordaid.

ICCO’s international website will remain online for the time being and can be visited here or go to Cordaid: