Thematic research area

According to the latest report of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), natural disasters have affected 61.7 million people and killed 10,733 worldwide in 2018. Again, floods continued to affect the largest number of people, 35.4 million, and caused more than 2,800 deaths. In addition, the report notes that 9.3 million people have experienced drought. Among the most affected countries, the report first cites Kenya (3 million), followed by Afghanistan (2.2 million) and Central America (2.5 million).

The effects of climate change and climate induced disasters are becoming increasingly significant worldwide, leading to increased health risks, mortality and morbidity rates, as well as food insecurity and malnutrition. The impacts of these disasters on health are manifold, whether direct (deaths, injuries, illnesses, mental health, etc.) or indirect (unmet primary health care needs both due to the increased demand for health care and the reduced capacity of the health system to respond to it). The same is true of the many threats to people’s livelihoods and food security that climate change is exacerbating. Droughts, floods and storms cause a decrease in agricultural yields that is susceptible to increase price volatility of commodities and make even more difficult the access of population to food. According to the FAO, 83% of the economic losses induced by drought, i.e. around 29 billion dollars, directly affected the agricultural sector between 2005 and 2015. Besides, climate variability would explain 60% of the changes in yields of maize, wheat, rice and soya. Health risks and food insecurity are also inextricably linked, as undernutrition contributes to a range of diseases (pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, etc.) and causes 35 per cent of all under-five deaths.

In this context, it is essential to strengthen the participation of health, and the fight against food insecurity and malnutrition, in disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change. In Kenya, where the humanitarian challenges in this area are significant, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has set up an innovative cash transfer programme.

Cash intervention continues to be commonly used as a modality to provide assistance after the occurrence of an emergency. The impact of these interventions has been significant in delivering support and alleviating suffering for those affected by disasters.

The use of cash as an early action is henceforth more and more adopted among humanitarian organisations. As an example, the Innovative Approach in Response Preparedness project implemented by the KRCS is focused towards the use of cash before an emergency occurs, with drought and floods as the major shocks for consideration.

The research’s main objective will be to build evidence whether the cash, used before occurrence of a disaster, really improves preparation and resilience of the targeted households or not, and thus to understand how to conduct a successful forecast-based cash transfer programme (CTP). What preparedness requirements need to be in place to implement cash before an emergency, and how can preparedness plans be effectively linked with actual implementation? What is the impact of the different modalities in a similar operating environment taking into account the comparison of the cost efficiency of in-kind, cash and vouchers?

Completing this main objective requires addressing several other issues, including the following.

It is first expected to leverage on social science to improve understanding of beneficiaries and effective cash transfer programming. How do beneficiaries use the money? What factors hinder the adequate use of the money they receive? Do cultural, political, social-economic and geographical differences across counties affect cash transfer programming, transfer value and cash encashment process? How do these diversities affect targeting of beneficiaries, and how to build relevant targeting criteria?

Cash intervention requires collection of data and evidence building to inform decision-making, provide evidence support on the use of cash before an emergency, and to derive key learnings and exploring new ways of using cash. For effective cash transfer programming, what data are relevant? What type of data is required to implement cash before an emergency? How can we model data to measure impacts from CTP intervention and for post distribution monitoring? How can we build evidence on CTP programming?

The cash intervention during drought is geared towards reducing the drought effects by increasing the dietary consumption at household level. Cash has been noted to have a positive outcome as households purchase food. However, more is required to assess what cash does or can do for nutritional outcomes in terms of acute malnutrition and whether cash alone is sufficient to achieve desired outcomes or whether a combination of cash and in-kind is necessary.

What activities can cash accomplish besides food? For example, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is a key sector during drought management and whereas there has been the use of cash in increase the dietary uptake, water is always a need. Are there needs in this domain that can be addressed through cash? There is a need for evidence from within the health sector, using familiar language, to understand the particular health needs for the appropriate use of cash transfers.

The social protection programmes put in place by the Kenyan government to protect households from the effects of drought, such as the Hunger Safety Net programme, are another important source of assistance. It would be interesting to know if associating this with a humanitarian intervention could add value to the whole intervention process. What could it look like? To what extent could humanitarian actors use existing social protection systems to supplement disaster payments rather than having to build parallel systems?

The scalability of cash remains a going concern in the humanitarian world as the donor community focuses on committing to delivering service through cash. The need for accountability and transparency is key as cash is considered a sensitive concern. There is need to have evidence on what auditable actions are key. What system requirements are needed to support effective cash intervention?

A literature review on existing studies on this subject is expected in order to give examples of cash preparedness programmes in different countries and tools that have  made the meaningful integration of CTPs in emergency preparedness and contingency planning possible, thus allowing for scalable responses.

Geographical research area

  • -The research will take place in Kenya.
  • – The target area represents empirical starting points for research. It does not refer to nationality criteria for eligibility.
  • -Access to the field will be conditional on a precise risk evaluation submitted with the application and updated before departure taking care to check beforehand the recommendations of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Applications closed

Research fellowship

Number: 1

Amount: € 15,000 

(applicants not residing in Kenya may apply for a mobility grant of up to € 2,000)

The recipient will also receive:

  1. scientific follow-up and personalised tutoring
  2. support in the valorisation of research results (translation into English, publication on this website, support for publication in journals of excellence and in particular in the review Humanitarian Alternatives, participation in the Foundation’s Annual Rencontres)
  3. one-year subscription to the review Humanitarian Alternatives
  4. one-year membership in the IHSA

Key dates:

• 21 February 2020 : launch of the Call
• 19 April: deadline for applications
• 2 July: results are announced
• 1 Sept. 2020: start of research
• 1 Sept. 2021: work delivered


• Resilience
• Risks
• Natural disasters
• Climate hazards
• Prevention
• Cash transfer