Evaluation at FAO
Mozambique - Seeds and tools distribution in Eráti district in Nampula Province using electronic vouchers. © FAO/Telcinia Nhantumbo

Evaluation of FAO’s Cash and Voucher Assistance

Cash, vouchers, and in-kind transfers are tools used to increase access to food, water, health care and other goods and services, to build and support livelihoods. The specific method of transfer varies depending on the local context, their effectiveness in reaching intended objectives and outcomes, and organisational capacity.

Cash and voucher assistance (CVA) interventions are regularly cited by crisis-affected populations as their preferred modality for receiving assistance and increasingly perceived as a more empowering and dignified way of assisting affected populations. In addition, increases in purchasing power through cash injections allow for protection of assets (keeping rather than selling them to cover immediate needs) and investments in livelihoods and productive capacity that stimulate economic recovery.

FAO has been implementing CVA interventions for over two decades in a variety of contexts and scales. FAO identifies a role for CVA in providing immediate relief to farmers, strengthening resilience of their livelihoods to future shocks (such as, drought, poor production, and pests), increasing agricultural production, improving food security and nutrition, and reducing rural poverty. CVA is used to support the transition from humanitarian assistance to development, including through enhanced linkages with social protection systems that can be leveraged to respond to shocks and crises.

FAO’s technical expertise lies in combining cash transfers with agricultural interventions to ultimately benefit communities through economic multiplier effects. In particular, FAO has been increasingly using the Cash+ approach, which complements cash transfers or vouchers with the provision of agricultural productive inputs, assets, activities and/or technical training, as a way to maximize the impact and sustainability. The cash provided to beneficiaries is designed to address their immediate food and other basic needs, while the ‘plus’ component promotes their engagement in productive activities.

Evaluation objectives and scope

The evaluation will be the first comprehensive assessment conducted on FAO’s CVA portfolio. It will:

  • Assess and report on the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of the use of CVA operations and activities (accountability)
  • Identify factors that facilitated or inhibited the use and effectiveness of CVA in order for the evaluation to develop lessons that will help in updating FAO policy and programming (learning)

The evaluation will draw on the accumulated experience in the use of CVA to support organizational learning and seek to provide insights for the future. The evaluation is intended to serve several specific purposes:

  • Examine the relevance of the various CVA modalities to FAO’s mandate and the needs of beneficiaries and assess how the use of CVA modalities is being factored in programme design.
  • Clarify the comparative advantage of FAO in delivering CVA.
  • Examine the role of partnerships in coordinating and delivering CVA.
  • Consolidate evidence on the effectiveness and efficiency of CVA and the factors influencing results.
  • Identify the enablers and blockers of increasing the use of CVA by FAO.

Cluster evaluation of projects on protecting, improving, and sustaining food security in rural Somalia

Somalia has suffered decades of complex emergencies and is facing one of the most protracted crises in the world, pervaded by political instability, conflict, environmental and economic shocks. In 2020, the food security situation improved with reduced numbers of people affected and their geographic spread, however, the overall situation remains poor and again worsened in 2021.

In this context, FAO started its Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) activities in 2008 with a cash for work programme. Since then, CVA has become an important component of its country programme.

The cluster evaluation covers FAO projects in Somalia that incorporate cash transfers and were implemented between 2019-2021. The evaluation aims to provide accountability for results achieved in improving and sustaining food security in Somalia. Importantly, it aims to draw lessons from project design and implementation process that could inform future projects that rely on the CVA modalities and decisions by the project team and key FAO partners.

Evaluation brief