Building a monitoring system for Cash Based Interventions: sample case study and database template

Following the previous articles on CBIs, Introduction to Cash Based Interventions for M&E professionals and Monitoring and Evaluation for Cash Based Interventions, in this article we are looking into more practical aspects of CBI monitoring systems. We will take an example using a fictional case study and we will explore how the theory gets implemented in an information system such as ActivityInfo.

For real life examples of CBI systems in ActivityInfo, make sure to watch the presentations by the AVSI Foundation in Lebanon and the Cash Consortium in Yemen, led by the DRC

Implementation Modalities

This is a fictional case study that includes a combination of characteristics that you can find in Cash Based Interventions:

  • Implementation modality: Multi- purpose unconditional and unrestricted cash intervention in vulnerable populations in refugee camps in rural regions and populations residing in urban regions of a country.

  • Eligibility criteria and targeting: Eligibility criteria are based on a vulnerability assessment. The vulnerability assessment score determines whether project participants will receive cash assistance. The amount is determined based on household size and this ranges from 100 euros to 500 euros for households with a household size of over five family members.

  • Disbursed amount: Amount is determined by the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) in the country of reference.

  • Delivery Mechanism: Prepaid debit cards that are loaded on a monthly basis by UNHCR via a financial provider. Cards that are not used for more than two months are canceled.

  • Registration process: Beneficiaries are registered by field staff face to face following referrals by other implementing agencies or communication with the existing helpline and refugee camp beneficiary lists.

  • Verification process: On a monthly basis, face-to-face by field staff via field visits in refugee camps and face-to-face appointments in verification centers maintained in the center of the city.

  • Accountability mechanism: Feedback received by helpline operators, suggestion box and face to face interactions are registered and addressed according to established SOPs.

Logical Framework and MEAL plan

Cash Transfer Programming (CTP) project logic aims primarily to meet households' basic needs, sector specific outcome and reduce the use of negative coping strategies which are strongly associated with the existence of strong Feedback, Complaints and Response Mechanisms. We want to monitor how the beneficiaries spend the money and to what extent they are satisfied with the services provided.

A strong project logic should monitor the distribution of cash on low level and the use of cash by project participants at upper levels of the logic model.

Case study: The logical framework
Case study: The logical framework

The MEAL plan:

Element Objective statement Indicator Definition Way of calculation
Objective Participants meet their household's basic needs % of household who report using at one negative coping strategy the past 4 weeks Negative coping strategies: sold households items, begging, engaged in risky activities for money, borrowed/took loan, withdrew a children from school, bought items on credit Numerator: report using at one negative coping strategy the past 4 weeks Denominator: total number of respondents
% of households who report being able to meet their basic needs, according to their priorities Basic needs: food, hygiene items, clothing or shoes, health costs, transportation Numerator: number of respondents reporting that their household can meet “all” or “most” of its needs Denominator: total number of respondents
Intermediate results Participants consider the assistance relevant and efficient % of beneficiaries reporting being satisfied with the provided assistance Numerator: number of respondents reporting very satisfied or fairly satisfied Denominator: total number of respondents
Output Participants receive cash grants # of households verified for cash assistance on a monthly basis Verification: part of the process established verification for cash Counting - no double counting

Monitoring and Evaluation approach

During monitoring, supervisors and program managers validate output level indicators on a monthly basis using the established monitoring reports. They discuss the results over coordination meetings to determine improvements needed for the implementation. Monthly data arise from monthly verification records, monthly registration and vulnerability assessments and daily Feedback, Complaint and Response Mechanism records.

In this case study, we focus on process monitoring on a biannual basis, and a post-distribution monitoring survey is conducted to assess the appropriateness, effectiveness and coverage of the cash assistance distributed as well as capture feedback from cash assistance beneficiaries.

A post-distribution monitoring survey employs a quantitative methodology and random sampling. Sample size is calculated at 95% confidence interval and at 5 significance levels. Results are consolidated with output level results and are presented in a reflection event that is taking place on biannual basis to determine high level changes and potential advocacy on donor and local government.

Workflow diagram and database template

Based on the information of the case study, we created the following workflow diagram. This diagram indicates that once you receive the camp lists and the referrals, you perform beneficiary registration, vulnerability assessment, you carry out verification and card distribution and lastly, perform monthly verification.

The Workflow diagram
The Workflow diagram

We have also created a database template that explores how ActivityInfo can be used to support your information management needs for Cash Based Interventions (CBI).

In the image below, you can view how the previous workflow diagram can be turned into a data model. For more information about data models you can watch our webinar Data modelling for humanitarian and development information management systems. When we have a data model in place, it becomes easy to create a database and data collection forms for it.

To practice on your own, you can create a copy of the database template and explore its content. You can also adjust the forms, add, edit or delete records and reports so that you can experiment with your own use cases and examples.

Reflecting our workflow in ActivityInfo
Reflecting our workflow in ActivityInfo

The template includes forms to register beneficiaries, conduct vulnerability assessments and monthly verifications, capture indicators related to post distribution status and satisfaction, collect feedback/complaints related to beneficiaries and many more. The template also includes two dashboards to help with monthly monitoring and tracking specific indicators.

In conclusion, Cash Based Interventions are a powerful tool for humanitarian and development work, and their integration into M&E processes is essential for ensuring their effectiveness and impact. Professionals in this field should read about CBIs to stay informed, make data-driven decisions, and contribute to more responsive and efficient assistance programs.

Are you looking for support for setting up your own system for CBIs? Never hesitate to contact us!

Sources and further readings: