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Cash is one of the most effective ways for WFP to help families to fight hunger, malnutrition and improve their food security. Where markets and financial sectors are functioning, putting money directly into people’s hands helps them to buy what they need. It gives them greater choice and independence. In 2021, WFP transferred a record of US$2.3 billion to people in 69 countries.

Cash transfers can be made by giving families physical banknotes, e-money, mobile money, debit cards or value vouchers that are redeemable at locally contracted shops.

The benefits extend beyond the recipients themselves, as cash enables local businesses and economies to grow. Between 2009-21, WFP injected around US$10 billion into national economies.

When families experience conflict, disasters or economic shocks, they prioritize their finances so they can cover basic needs for food, rent, education and healthcare. As levels of hunger rise around the world, millions of families are being forced to make impossible choices about how they spend their limited resources, such as deciding to buy medicine or food.

Cash from WFP gives people the power to make their own choices about what they need each month.Data from WFP shows that most of the money WFP gives to families is spent on food.

WFP’s cash activities can be a starting point for (digital) financial inclusion. When women have their own accounts in their own names it can help them to transform their lives.  When women receive cash, they access financial services such as banks. From here, they can become more financially resilient, access savings or loans, and build a future. Over 1.7 billion people do not have access to financial services, and most of them are women.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that women’s economic parity would increase global GDP by up to 27 percent. It makes sense to give money to families – especially women, because when poverty goes down, so does hunger. This benefits everyone.

As the world’s largest provider of humanitarian cash transfers, WFP supports governments and helps to develop national payment systems to boost social safety nets. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 40 countries approached WFP for support with their government-to-person payments.

Cash is one effective tool in the fight against hunger both in emergencies and to change lives in the long-term. As the situation in a country or emergency changes, WFP can switch between different forms of assistance to respond swiftly to people’s needs and help them to achieve food security.