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Cash and Markets – the role of logistics


This is a question that I've been asked in the field so I wanted to share it with everyone on KnowledgePoint

There is a need for a humanitarian intervention to support war-affected people who are now able to return home. Local markets appear to be functioning with no reported problems in their supply chains. Should I develop a logistics and procurement plan that supports our programme team to respond to returnees’ basic needs by distributing household kits and basic food items, or design a cash transfer intervention?

1 Answer


Essentially you should first conduct a market assessment to determine the most appropriate means of assistance (in-kind vs cash based response). There are many high quality toolkits for humanitarian market analysis that can be used, such as RAM (rapid assessment for markets), EMMA (emergency market mapping and analysis), the 48-Hour tool and others. Some of these can be implemented quickly, but some approaches can be very detailed and time consuming.

However, it is important to determine the specific goods or services that are needed by the returnees before gathering market information. You should also consider the capacity, limitations and mandate of your organisation in relation to the proposed intervention. You should find out the extent to which local market traders are willing and able to provide key goods in the quantity/volume (and quality) necessary to meet the needs of the crisis-affected population. What are the reasons for any gaps in capacity? These gaps could be supply-chain related, which can mean that additional market based / logistics interventions may be necessary. Whatever the case, it is important to interact with, and seek advice from, the inter-agency cash coordination group, if one has been set up. There is a lot of very useful information, including short videos on the logistics cluster website