Global forced displacement is reaching unprecedented levels; the need is greater than ever for research-backed humanitarian programming to save lives and alleviate suffering. Cash Transfer Programming (CTP) has emerged in the last decade as a preferred form of aid in emergencies, but funding flows and existing research into CTP’s potential impact and best practices are primarily oriented towards adult and household recipients of cash aid. Adolescents in emergencies are less well researched and less supported as a population relative to other age groups. To help address this gap, Mercy Corps tasked a Columbia SIPA capstone team to assess how CTP can better support adolescents in emergencies.  

The team’s products include a review of potential benefits and limitations of CTP for adolescent program participants and a review of existing research regarding adolescents in emergencies as a target population for humanitarian programming— including their needs, the risks they face, and negative coping strategies they may engage in when their needs are not met. Key recommendations include emphases on the importance of case management and child protection in any cash transfer program with adolescents as direct cash recipients; emphasis on the importance of including adolescents in planning and research and incorporating adolescent perspectives into all stages of program cycles; and a call for greater effort in sex- and age-disaggregated data collection and target population research on adolescents in emergencies, as the characteristics of this population are highly contextual and still inadequately understood by existing literature.