Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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When you think of Australia providing foreign aid, you probably think of giving food and crop-growing supplies or providing access to water. Indeed, this vital work is imperative and continuing. In time sensitive situations such as the Afghanistan Food Crisis however, a transfer of cash can be a more effective way to deliver foreign aid to people in need.

So what are cash transfers and why are they so effective in a crisis, such as the current one in Afghanistan?  When is a cash transfer a good idea, and when is something else more appropriate? Let’s take a look at this trusted means of foreign aid.

What is a cash transfer?

A cash transfer is a direct payment that can be sent to people during an emergency. Cash transfers are generally provided in local currency, which can be spent in local businesses, thus also supporting local economies during a crisis.

In situations such as the Afghanistan Food Crisis, this form of foreign aid exists as an alternative to distributing goods like food, blankets, hygiene packs and temporary shelter kits.

In other cases, cash transfers complement the distribution of such items. Aid organisations might distribute food and use cash transfers to let families buy pots and plates to cook with, for example. Or, if people already have sufficient food, giving cash transfers can mean they now have access to electricity or fuel to cook with.

In short, cash transfers allow people to buy what they most need now and make the choices that will best support their families in times of crisis, affording them more dignity and power over what they need.

Why use a cash transfer?

Cash transfers are a highly effective method to provide individuals and families with emergency support during conflict or crisis. Transferring cash can be utilised by people in need much more efficiently than locating, transporting, and distributing goods. Cash is also a more flexible and dignified form of foreign aid for people facing a crisis, such as in Afghanistan.

Cash is preferably given electronically where infrastructure allows, but physical cash is also given where necessary. An individual or family can spend a cash transfer on their specific needs. They can choose where they want to shop and what they need or want to spend the cash on. A family that has only a basic food supply for example, would then have the means to purchase additional groceries.

Cash transfers enable a family to support their local economy and means that they can have a diverse range of foods to eat. A transfer of cash also allows a family to pay for other essentials, such as clean water and health care. With cash transfers, individuals and families are empowered to make the purchasing decisions that best support their needs in a crisis.

When are cash transfers effective?

Although an effective means of foreign aid in the context of the Afghanistan Food Crisis, cash transfers are not always the preferred option. For example, if a region is in lockdown, recipients may be unable to spend a cash transfer at local businesses.

Or when ChildFund wants to help families in rural areas, distributing food, shelter kits, and other goods is more effective than providing cash alone. Likewise, a cash transfer is less effective when something else, such as immediate shelter, is needed more urgently.

How are cash transfers helping during COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world’s poorest countries particularly harshly. It has impacted people’s health and education, and entire economies. Fresh food, clean water, sources of income and even leisure activities have all been impacted.

However, as the world cautiously opens up again, Australian foreign aid can make a difference to those countries most in need. With cash transfers, families in Afghanistan can be empowered to decide and buy the food and other essentials that they need. Transferring cash to families provides them with the flexibility to purchase basic necessities, and can prevent children having to leave school to work.

You can help to provide children and their families in Afghanistan with emergency food and assistance. You can donate once or monthly now, through ChildFund’s Afghanistan Food Crisis Appeal page.

The International Day of Families is an annual celebration, recognising the importance that people around the world attach to families and their wellbeing.

The day is an opportunity to promote the awareness of issues relating to families, and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes which currently affect families all over the world.

While most families in countries like Australia have access to the resources required to support their ongoing health and wellbeing, many families in countries that are developing or impacted by ongoing conflict do not.

This International Families Day ChildFund Australia, as a part of the Emergency Action Alliance, is supporting families impacted by the conflict in Ukraine. You can help the children of Ukraine and their families by making a donation.

When is International Day of Families?

International Day of Families 2022 is on Sunday 15 March.

Why is International Day of Families celebrated?

During the 1980s, the United Nations began focussing its attention on issues related to families, with an aim to enhance awareness among key decision makers and the public of the problems and needs of the family.

The International Day of Families was subsequently established as an annual celebration by the United Nations in 1993, with the identification of ways to meet the needs of families being a priority.

In 2015, the 193 member states of the United Nations also unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals. The achievement of many of these goals is highly dependent on family-oriented policies being implemented by governments.

The International Day of Families provides an opportunity to bring further attention to these goals, and the policies that decision makers must put in place to support them. 

What is the theme of International Day of Families 2022?

This year’s theme is “Families and Urbanisation”, and aims to raise awareness on the importance of sustainable, family-friendly urban policies.

The United Nations recognises that urbanisation is one of the key trends shaping our modern world, and is having a significant impact on the lives and wellbeing of families all over the world.

Sustainable urbanisation is related to the achievement of poverty eradication, good health and wellbeing, safe and sustainable communities, and a reduction of inequality amongst countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has had an unprecedented effect on many areas of life for families, including economic, educational and nutrition concerns.

The International Day of Families 2022 presents an opportunity to highlight these inequalities and implement realistic solutions.

How can I support International Day of Families?

There are many ways that you can support International Day of Families 2022, and help to raise awareness of the most important issues impacting families globally.

Here we outline a few ideas:

Donate to our Ukraine Emergency Appeal

Families throughout Ukraine are currently fleeing, hiding or worse while Russia attacks their country. This invasion is the latest in an ongoing conflict that has killed thousands of people since 2014, and could displace up to 6.5 million people.

You can help now by donating to the Ukraine Emergency Appeal. Your support will help to deliver emergency relief to children and their families as the crisis unfolds.

Create a Facebook fundraiser

Did you know that you can fundraise on Facebook for ChildFund Australia? By setting up your own fundraiser you can invite family and friends to donate to the Ukraine Emergency Appeal also. Help to support the International Day of Families on a smaller scale by creating your fundraiser now.

Host a morning tea

You can take the time to discuss the International Day of Families with your co-workers, by setting up a morning tea fundraiser in the office. A gold coin donation from staff members could be suggested, with the proceeds from this going to one of our current appeals to support children and families.

Together we can empower families all over the world to access the care and support needed to thrive this International Day of Families.