CASH-IN: privately managed cash transfers in Africa

Project: Research

Project Details


The overall objective of CASH-IN is to investigate whether and to what extent privately managed cash transfers (PrivCTs) are politicized by ruling elites and how this affects inclusive sustainable growth and state-society relations. Cash transfers have become an increasingly popular way of providing international development and humanitarian assistance. Giving money to people in need is not new, but over the last two decades direct cash transfers have emerged as a key aid modality bridging the development–humanitarian nexus. Cash transfers may be funded by private donors, governments or as part of international aid. While publicly managed social-protection and cash-transfer programmes have been extensively scrutinized, hardly any studies exist of privately managed programmes. Research on publicly managed programmes indicates that politicization and capture by ruling elites impact on their ability to lead to sustainable inclusive economic growth and costly implementation of the programmes. Can privately managed cash transfers avoid the types of political capture that studies of public transfers have generally uncovered and what type of state-society relations do they produce? CASH-IN will be the first study to focus systematically on privately managed humanitarian and development cash transfers. In order to capture the political dimension of cash transfers, Uganda and Tanzania both have significant experience of the diversity of political organizations and political settlements. Tanzania is generally considered to be a dominant party-state system, while Uganda comes closer to being a competitive clientelist state. Comparative analysis of these countries enables the project to examine the links between the type of political settlement and its influence, if any, on privately managed cash transfers for both humanitarian (short-term) and development-oriented (long-term) cash-transfer programmes.

Key findings

Objectives Overall objective is to investigate whether and to what extent privately managed cash transfers (PrivCTs) are politicized by ruling elites and how this affects inclusive sustainable growth and state-society relations.
1. Research objectives 1.1. To establish how recipients of PrivCTs are selected, by whom and why. 1.2. To understand what role, if any, PrivCT programmes play in sustaining political regimes and what state-society relations they produce. 1.3. To understand how cost-effective PrivCTs are in disbursing cash compared to PubCTs. 1.4. To understand the short- and long-term impact (effectiveness) of PrivCT programmes on sustainable inclusive economic growth in the short and long term.
2. Policy objectives Based on the research results, to formulate advice and recommendations for donors and governments with regard to: 2.1. Using PrivCTs with regard to their political economy effects. 2.2. Using PrivCTs with regard to their cost-effectiveness and impact on inclusive sustainable growth. 2.3. Consider possible lessons from previous studies in using cash transfers as aid and the possibilities of scaling up PrivCTs (complexities of large-scale versus small-scale operations).
3. Capacity-strengthening objectives Based on programme activities, to: 3.1. Strengthen research capacity at Dodoma (UDOM) and Makerere (MU) Universities. 3.2. Strengthen research cooperation and networking between DK, Tz and Uga. 3.3. Strengthen the PhD school environments at UDOM and MU.

Layman's description

Political economy analysis based on the political settlement approach;
Privately Managed Cash Transfers;
Cost and impact of sustainable economic development;
Social contract and regime legitimacy;
Politization and capture by ruling elites;
Humanitarian Development Nexus
Short titleCASH-IN
Effective start/end date01/09/202031/08/2025

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • Private and public organisations
  • Social contracts
  • impact
  • Cash-transfers
  • Political Economy
  • Corruption