Enable reporting of payment via In-Kind ,Vouchers or Cash Transfers

[Originally added by Christian Els]

As discussed with the IATI technical team, the current IATI standard does not allow for a distinction between in-kind donations and cash grants. Especially in the humanitarian community this seems important, since many INGOs and UN entities procure large amounts of food, non-food items etc which are then channelled to their implementing partners in-kind.

Several of the UN organisations which spend significant amounts of their budget on procuring relief items committed to the “Grand Bargain” at the WHS last week in Istanbul. https://consultations.worldhumanitariansummit.org/bitcache/70ccab5bd711f742dcf8d001fa89d58c062539d5?vid=581058&disposition=inline&op=view

The Grand Bargain includes a commitment to more transparency and publishing data according to the IATI standard. So it seems very relevant to allow for a in-kind/ cash-grant distinction in the IATI standard.

NB This issue was originally added and discussed on the previous version IATI Standard Upgrade forum. However that forum has now itself moved to the IATI Discuss platform so this topic has been created in order that discussions can continue here.

I agree that this is critical. I’ve been involved in discussions with CaLP, FTS, and others, and everyone wants to move quickly on improving reporting for direct cash transfers, before the reality overtakes our ability to report on it.


Rather than create a new post I am going to extend the scope of this post because data users would like to be able to identify which activities have used and delivered how much funding to beneficiaries by one or more of the following: cash transfer, vouchers or in-kind goods or services?

As a result it would be good to establish how the use of these the best practice approach for how publishers should report the use of these programming modalities?

@JohnAdams @theo.sande @Reichner @YohannaLoucheur are you currently using and reporting on the use of these mechanisms in your published datasets and if so what elements of the IATI Standard are you using (and how) to do so?

Also, how do other think they should be reported on?

I am also very keen to progress this discussion at this time in case we decide that we may need to make changes to the next version of the IATI Standard

Hi Wendy,
we currently do not publish any details regarding the nature of transactions (expenditures etc.), also because there are no real field available. I believe this would require a fundamental change to the IATI standard, introducing comparable cost categories for the different transaction types. WFP could support this for expenditures but for other transactions (e.g. income) this might prove to be very cumbersome.

We do not publish this information, as we do not deliver humanitarian assistance directly. We provide grants to partners, who in turn deliver assistance (directly or through further grants to partners) - and should share data on their activities.

My first impression is, like Otto, that this would apply to expenditures, not disbursements. Perhaps adding an attribute “type of expenditure” would suffice?

As a side note, I have seen this labeled “type of aid” in some documents. Since the IATI standard already has “type of aid”, with a codelist governed by the DAC and quite different in nature, we should avoid using that term. Let’s see if there is consensus around “type of expenditures”.

Thank you both @YohannaLoucheur and @Reichner for your input and comments and it is very interesting that you have both identified expenditure types as a potential way of publishing this information.

An alternative approach that has been suggested is to report the distribution of cash/ vouchers etc as a deliverable (output) of the reported activity and therefore by using . However, as there is a data use requirement to be able to identify activities using cash transfers / vouchers etc. I am not sure this would suffice unless all publishers were using the same indicator(s)? I have found that the UN Humanitarain Response Indicators do include an indicator for Food Security of [‘Number of beneficiaries receiving food, non-food items, cash transfers and vouchers as % of planned] (https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/applications/ir/indicator/f-output-1)’ but I think some work would be required to develop this into something more generic?

The other option is of course to add a new element so that activities could be tagged accordingly however I don’t think we would want to do this unless we really have exhausted all other options.

Therefore thoughts from others in the community would be very welcome

The term I’m seeing consistently in humanitarian 3Ws is “modality” (cash, voucher, in-kind, etc), though I understand that term might be overloaded for general ODA.

Agreed that this might not be reported at the donor level (unless some of the projects are earmarked in advance for cash, etc) but I’d expect to see it a lot at the implementing-partner reporting level.

To continue this discussion we have recently been made aware that the Cash Learning Partnership are developing some definitions for cash and voucher modalities (thanks @David_Megginson I’ll go with this term for now) .

Given that these definitions have not yet been agreed by the wider humanitarian community and may not be agreed in time for specific inclusion within the v2.03 Standard Upgrade we may have to consider introducing them post upgrade perhaps as a new ‘Aid Type’ vocabulary?

One advantage of this approach is that it does aid granularity of reporting in that aid-type can be declared at both activity and transaction level.

As ever the views of the community are welcome.

It may make sense to wait for these definitions to be finalized.

However, this does not address the more fundamental issue of messing up “Aid Type”, when in fact we are describing a type of expenditures.

Grand Bargain signatories have committed to measure cash programming as part of the Grand Bargain Commitment on cash programming. Most recent evidence is also calling for a more systematic measurement of cash and voucher programming. DFID perspective is that cash and vouchers need to be measured separately, as they have different risks, impacts and VfM. We also need to be able to track the volume allocated to cash transfers and to vouchers transfers to monitor progress towards the Grand Bargain commitment, and build the evidence base to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian aid. The Grand Bargain Cash Workstream has agreed to use the definitions of cash transfers as well as of voucher transfers included in the CaLP Glossary, and we support the use of these definitions in the tracking of cash transfers and of voucher transfers.

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@YohannaLoucheur I’m not sure that everyone would agree with you that cash transfer programmes are merely a type of expenditure.

I agree with you that there is currently no satisfactory alternative for accurately classifying cash transfer (and related) programmes and we should take a pause.

I do, however, think there is value in this issue being referred to the WP-STAT. Is that possible?

As an update, the Cash Learning Partnership have now set up a working group which will be working on (amongst other things) cash / voucher definitions. I am a member of the working group as are representatives from OECD DAC and OCHA (for HXL). I anticipate that definitions are unlikely to be agreed to align with the Standard upgrade timelines but I remain hopeful that one of the outputs from the working group will be a codelist that we can integrate perhaps as another Aid Type vocabulary

We are just having a discussion here about whether cash/voucher “modality” should be an attribute of a transaction rather than an activity.

If we used an attribute like @modality we would need to think about the perspectives from different organisations in the delivery chain. Donors will rarely distribute cash or vouchers directly, and are more likely to go through intermediaries. For example:

Donor transaction needs to be labelled with a “intended for cash transfers” modality, but is actually delivered as a grant through bank transfer.

Intermediary transaction needs to be labelled with a “cash transfer” modality, as that will distribute cash to citizens.

tl;dr : modality needs to be an attrribute of a transaction

Thanks for the comments @JohnAdams which are really helpful. Also one of the reasons for considering referencing cash/voucher “modality” via an ‘aid-type’ vocabulary (assuming that enhancement gets accepted?) is because it is available at both activity and transaction level.

However, I do not wish to make any assumptions on implementation just yet as it might be that the referencing of such modalities may actually be made available via one of the DAC codelists that are used by IATI?

One of the significant advantages of have cash/ voucher modality assigned at transaction level is that we can then monitored volumes (£/$) delivered through these mechanisms.
By assigning the modality at activity level (as with aid-type) we take a step back in detail. We can identify activites using cash, we can not measure the amount of cash/ vouchers which these activites delivered to recipients.

We would strongly encourage IATI to explore solutions which enable tracking of volumnes. The OECD DAC solutions being explored at the moment (proect marker or key word in project decription) do not meet the needs of the Humanitarian community as this not enable reporting against the Grand Baragain commitment towards increased use of Cash.

Cash transfers and vouchers are not used only in the context of humanitarian aid. We should be thinking of the use cases where it would be useful to identify the use of these modalities, and then where best it fits in the standard (and in the delivery chain).

That being said, if this is accepted it will be interesting to see the somewhat contradictory pieces of data attached to activities… For instance, Donor A will provide funding (via a grant) to organization B to provide cash transfers to refugees. This will be coded at the same time, in the same IATI element DAC B03 (specific purpose program), “earmarked” given the very specific modality demanded by the donor, and “cash transfers”. GB signatories have committed to reduce earmarking, but to increase the use of cash transfers. Depending which vocabulary(ies) data users choose to look at, the same project could be judged quite differently in terms of delivering on GB commitments.

Completely understand that Humanitarian is not the only cash, but would hope for an identifier which gave maximum potential information- if volumes are less relevant in a particualr sector then a marker at transaction level can still be “scaled up” to identify programmes/ projects makign use of cash.

Regarding measuring earmarking vs use of cash, I hear what you say but I’m not sure I see the issue.
The commitment towards reducing earmarking could at first be considered through tracking volume delivered to recipients as multi-purpose cash as opposed to the traditional “stuff” or sector specific vouchers.

In line with GB commitments we would hope to see a move towards donors away from project-type iontervension and towards delivering un-earmarked core contributions to agencies. In this case donors will be unable to specify cash at transaction level - it will just be a core contribution to an agency which is well captured within the existing IATI structure. BUT assuming the necessary infrastructure/ support/ guidance is then in place to enable the reporting of agencies throughout the delivery we would see the delivery of cash at this level. This mapping throughout the delivery chain could be a way of measuring the commitment towards localisation… a potential three-in-one win?

This once again highlights the importance of ensuring reporting to IATI standards throughout the delivery chain.

Aid-type is already available at both activity (<default-aid-type>) and transaction (<aid-type>) level. If a vocabulary was added it would be added to both elements.

Isn’t the modality describing the ultimate type of intervention - not the means of transaction?

I still think we should be working jointly with WP-STAT on this, IF there is a realistic chance of a positive and timely outcome.

Not the type of intervention hence - my comment above. Only in later levels of the delivery chain does the funding modality and type of intervention become more closely aligned.

Agreed. I assume the Secretariat has approached DCD already?

I would suggest that the delivery modality belongs properly in the last-mile reporting. In an ideal world, if GAC or DFID provides $5m for a program, we should be able to trace down to the individual activities on the ground and calculate how many of them had a modality of “cash” or “vouchers” rather than in-kind.

Since the world is not ideal, unfortunately, that’s not always going to work—we don’t get enough of field-level/last-mile reporting in IATI—so donors might need to identify modality higher up the chain (where it does not properly belong) just to be able to monitor their GB commitments.