KORE - Knowledge sharing platform on Emergencies and Resilience

Nutrition-sensitive cash+ in Somalia

Combining cash payments, nutrition education and provision of agricultural and livestock inputs to increase food security and improve diets of drought-affected pastoralists and farmers

In 2016 and 2017, a drought led to large-scale food insecurity across Somalia, affecting more than six million people, including over 900,000 children under the age of five likely to be acutely malnourished. Following the two-year drought, in 2018, heavy rains led to flooding in the southern part of the country. This severely affected farmers’ ability to cultivate during the following season. In response to this emergency, in 2018 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) adopted a programmatic nutrition-sensitive Cash+ approach funded mainly by the World Bank through the “Somalia emergency drought response and recovery project”. This approach was further streamlined by the cash+ livestock projects funded by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the cash+ agriculture project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). 

FAO’s cash+ is a cash transfer modality that pairs unconditional cash transfers with productive inputs, assets and/or technical training, aimed at supporting beneficiaries to address immediate needs while also engaging in productive activities. Depending on the beneficiary groups, FAO provides cash+ crop, livestock, or fish packages. In short, cash+ interventions seek to enhance the food security, nutrition and income generation potential of vulnerable households. Against this background, this promising practice fact sheet explores how the cash+ model in Somalia can contribute to improving diets and food security of pastoralist and farming communities. 


  • On cash transfers: The Cash+ approach, i.e. combining unconditional cash transfers with productive inputs, assets and/or technical training, can support households’ dietary diversity and food security and reduce households’ need to resort to negative coping strategies. Nutrition-sensitive cash+ interventions can be tailored to account for different types of livelihood zones and have a significant potential for upscale. The “plus” in FAO’s cash+ programming ensures families not only have cash in their pockets, but also the inputs, assets, training and support they need to farm, herd, fish and diversify their livelihoods.
  • On nutrition: To maximise the impact on nutrition and diets, it is important to ensure that disbursement of cash coincides with the time of greatest need and is timely. Even in conditions where some food needs are being met from other programmes, different transfer amounts could be used to ensure access to fresh food while training could be integrated to promote food security and nutrition. To fully understand the contribution of nutrition-sensitive cash+ interventions, operational research should also be built into programming and evaluations of nutrition components planned and budgeted.
  • On capacity development: In nutrition-sensitive cash+ interventions, capacity development of local and national actors plays a vital role in passing on skills and knowledge to be utilized long after the emergency cash projects come to an end. The Somalia cash+ intervention shows the importance of relying on nutrition champions that are trained at the village level and equipped to train and conduct nutrition counselling long after the project complete. Moreover, supporting governments in developing guidelines, such as the Somalia Food Safety Education Guidelines, increases the sense of ownership and ensures that such guidelines will be used in the future, to train different ministries on nutrition.
  • On gender: The cash+ approach in Somalia enabled the participation of both women and men, as “nutrition champions”, participating in trainings, and as payments beneficiaries, empowering both to take action in ensuring better nutrition for their household and community. Including training in hygienic food handling practices as well as the training in infant and young child feeding practices, as part of nutrition education, to women and men with children who are the most at risk of malnutrition, can foster the adoption of better nutrition practices in households.
No comments

Please join or sign in the KORE community