Developing guidelines for humanitarian cash assistance in Somalia


Many humanitarian actors apply the consortium approach as a tool for coordination, learning, alignment and accountability. The Somalia Cash Working group (SCWG) leads the inter-sectoral cash coordination mechanism with an aim of improving the coordination of cash assistance, quality of implementation of cash assistance and Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning as well as ensuring a systematic and evidence based cash and market programming for humanitarian and longer term planning for the Somalia Humanitarian Response. The Somalia Cash Working Group is co-chaired by the World Food Programme and Somali Cash Consortium/Concern Worldwide.

The SCWG has a financial service provider work-stream whose objective is to improve systems and processes of mobile-based cash and voucher assistance (CVA) in Somalia.

In April 2019, the GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation (M4H) programme, in conjunction with the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP), hosted a workshop in Hargeisa, Somaliland and discussed the challenges in using mobile enabled cash and voucher assistance (CVA) in humanitarian programming as well as possible solutions to these challenges.  During the workshop, it was established that there were challenges in recipient targeting and cash distribution that mobile network operators (MNOs) could provide solutions for. However, the various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) utilising MNO services are doing so in an uncoordinated manner, resulting in different levels of service delivery to the recipients of the humanitarian assistance. To overcome this challenge, workshop participants recommended developing harmonised guidance documents for mobile-enabled humanitarian assistance in Somalia.

Supported by the GSMA M4H programme, the financial services work-stream of the SCWG, developed a set of six guidance documents on the use of mobile services in humanitarian programming in Somalia. The six guidance documents are:

  1. MNO service offering in Somalia, with a proposition for better coordination between MNOs and humanitarian actors;
  2. Automation of cash transfer process, which proposes a shift from manual to digital mechanisms for cash distribution;
  3. Digital opportunities for post distribution monitoring;
  4. common beneficiary database amongst humanitarian actors to address duplication and improve efficiency of recipient registries;
  5. Proof of ID to addresses challenges in the authentication and lack of national identity systems; and
  6. An enabling environment analysis, which reviews the regulatory frameworks to recommend a more enabling operating environment.

Access the documents

In order to operationalise these guidance documents, the GSMA M4H programme is supporting the SCWG to develop a toolkit to help the humanitarian actors in the SCWG to self-assess their alignment against the guidance documents and thus define clear areas of program improvement with regards to digital humanitarian assistance.

It is the hope that the adoption of these guidance documents will not only increase alignment in the humanitarian mobile money sector practices and result in the improvement of digital humanitarian cash assistance in Somalia, but also provide a significantly sustainable outlook for mobile operators through the consolidation of demand for mobile enabled humanitarian assistance.