According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of refugees has constantly increased over the last decade. It is estimated that there are currently (Aug. 2021) more than 21m refugees worldwide in need of humanitarian assistance. Most refugees live in environments where they have access to markets and services in the same way that local communities do. Providing refugees with cash - also known as “cash-based assistance (CBA)” - enables them to fulfil their needs in a dignified manner and contributes to the local economy.
DigCBA contributes to the responsible use of digital CBA in the refugee crisis. Digital technology, including mobile money, electronic vouchers, electronic cash, and recently blockchain-based systems, is transforming CBA. The technology has the potential to increase access to financial resources and services during times of crisis while increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of assistance.
DigCBA aims to support the selection and the use of the most feasible and suitable digital technology for delivering CBA in the refugee crisis. To this end, the project seeks to correlate different potential technologies with:
- First, the contextual characteristics of refugee locations (for example, data infrastructure conditions) and the connection to the refugees' preferences, their technology access and digital literacy
- Second, the relative readiness and acceptance of CBA actors (such as donors, humanitarian organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)) to adopt, implement and use the technology in target locations.
DigCBA’s objective is to develop a set of evidence-based frameworks to assess the contextual characteristics, evaluate the readiness of actors, and prioritize technologies for CBA. It takes a stakeholder-centred approach focusing on the needs of beneficiaries, policymakers of CBA actors, and business partners.
DigCBA is coordinated by UiA, in collaboration with NTNU, Hanken School of Economics, WWU Munster, and Makerere University.
DigCBA contributes to the responsible use of digital cash-based assistance (CBA) in refugee crisis through the design, development and evaluation of evidence-based frameworks to support policy makers with the selection and use of the most suitable digital technology for delivering CBA to refugees. Digital technology, including mobile money, electronic vouchers, electronic cash, and recently blockchain-based transfers, is transforming CBA with the potential to increase access to financial resources and services during times of crisis while increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of assistance. While academic research on technology aspects of CBA is rare, the growing interest on CBA in practice has stimulated the need among CBA actors to explore using digital technology where FEASIBLE in terms of (i) contextual characteristics (e.g. data infrastructure conditions in target locations) and refugees' preference, technology access and digital literacy; and (ii) the relative readiness and acceptance of main CBA actors to adopt, implement and use the technology in target locations. The responsible use of digital CBA entails ensuring policy makers at HOs, NGOs, and donors make informed decisions about the use of digital technology in CBA while accounting for the contextual characteristics of the target community, and the technology readiness of involved actors. Specifically, the project takes a stakeholder-centred approach addressing the needs of beneficiaries, humanitarian organizations, international and local non-governmental organizations, donors, and business partners. The project is coordinated by UiA, in collaboration with NTNU, Hanken School of Economics, WWU Munster, and Makerere University. A reference group of CBA actors secures close interaction with policy makers targeted by DigCBA. The project consists of an interdisciplinary team of humanitarian operations researchers with focus on ICT, supply chain management, information systems and organization studies.