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  • LocationUganda
  • SectorCash Transfers
  • Type of investmentGrant
  • Project stageTest & Transition

GiveDirectly will engage extensively with major players in the humanitarian space including UNHCR, and, conditional on the efficacy of the intervention, help influence policy makers, host governments, donors and implementing organisations to shift toward the use of large cash transfers in refugee settings.


The development problem.

An estimated 65 million people are currently forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict. Of them, 22.5 million are refugees and most refugees are hosted by countries which are often also afflicted by poverty and political fragility. Permanence of long-term refugee settlements has only increased over last four decades. However, the focus of current aid is on short-term solutions (e.g., emergency food rations), not on longer-term potential solutions that may help improveself-sufficiencyand build sustainable livelihoods). Approximately USD 3.4 billion of international aid is spent supporting long-term refugees through various forms of in-kind assistance. Though large, humanitarian aidin refugee contexts isin need of a change of approach.

The innovation.

GiveDirectly’s innovation is to test whether delivering a relatively large lump-sum cash transfer, as opposed to a monthly subsistence payment or in-kind aid, can enable refugees to jump start a better life and build sustainable livelihoods. By generating learnings and adding to the evidence base, GiveDirectly aims to influence the effectiveness and efficiency of aid money spent in refugee resettlement. Traditional methods are typically in-kind forms of relief(food, shelter, clothes etc.) or more recently, small and frequent small cash transfers, both of which essentially service consumption requirements.

GIF's investment.

The objectives of GIF support are as follows:
- Successful delivery of large, unconditional cash transfers efficiently and impactfully to help improve the lives of refugees and host nationals
- Successful delivery of a robust external impact evaluation, comprised of a randomised control trial and qualitative research, on the lives of refugees and host nationals in order to fill an existing evidence gap and inform future decision-making about cash programs by donors and implementing organisations
- Dissemination of learnings and findings from evidence generated using strategic communications and advocacy, conditional on the efficacy of the intervention, to influence practitioners, policy makers and donors in the humanitarian sector to shift towards a more efficient and effective (in terms of enabling the creation of sustainable livelihoods) cash transfer approach.

Investment objective(s).

Deliver large, lump sum cash transfers to improve the lives of refugees and host nationals, conduct a randomized control trial to demonstrate success in a refugee context and use the findings to advocate for wider adoption as a potentially more efficient and effective refugee aid model.

Why we invested

  • There is currently little evidence around the impact of the use of large cash transfers in refugee settings
  • Refugee situations are becoming increasingly protracted. It’s estimated that more than 80% of refugee crises last for ten years or more
  • The project addresses an important issue of increasing efficiency of funds in the humanitarian space at a time of constrained funding and high need
  • There is interest in this project from large UN agencies as well as other donor and implementing organisations
  • GiveDirectly has an experienced team leading this project and is a reputed organisation in the domain of cash-transfers research and implementation
  • This investment is aligned with GIF’s priority theme of Improving How Public Services Work for the Poor

Click here to read GiveDirectly’s Impact Brief.

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