Anticipatory cash transfers in climate disaster response
In the face of increasing climate volatility and stretched aid budgets, more
effective ways to support households in times of crisis are needed. This paper
examines the welfare impact of an anticipatory cash transfer provided to
households forecasted to experience extreme floods in Bangladesh. Evidence on
the impact of a one-off transfer in a disaster are limited, despite the widespread
use of such transfers in crises, reflecting more broadly a dearth of evaluations in
the humanitarian sector. To assess impact, we exploit administrative constraints
experienced during the programme roll-out caused by the quick onset of the flood
and restrictions on movement as a result of Covid-19, to compare treated
households with otherwise comparable households which did not receive the
cash transfer. We find that the anticipatory cash transfer was mostly spent on
food and water, and that treated households were 36% less likely to go a day
without eating during the flood. Three months after the flood, households that
had received the transfer reported significantly higher child and adult food
consumption and wellbeing. They also experienced lower asset loss, engaged in
less costly borrowing after the flood, and reported higher earning potential. Our
results are robust to alternate control group definitions and model specifications.
These benefits from the anticipatory cash transfer occurred before a traditional
humanitarian response would normally arrive, highlighting the benefits of being
early. We find that small changes in timing matter: receiving the cash a day
earlier resulted in a small and marginally significant increase in welfare.
Pople, A.; Hill, R.; Dercon, S.; Brunckhorst, B.
Centre for Disaster Protection
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