Market based programming is increasingly heralded as having a critical place in the future of humanitarian programming. The proposed benefits of working through existing market systems include improvements to speed, efficiency and effectiveness of programming and increased beneficiary dignity and choice. Advocates for market based approaches claim that, where feasible, they promote economic recovery, resilience, acceptance and sustainability. Implementing market based approaches is not new to the WASH sector; programmes have often included for example: cash for work; vouchers for water trucking, hygiene kits and fuel; setting up water kiosks; capacity building of water traders; and supporting financial systems and processes as part of regular programming. However, the global discussion around markets is increasingly focused on the promotion of cash as a cost-effective way of meeting multi-sector needs in humanitarian settings. Whilst the Global WASH Cluster (GWC) supports the drive for a more appropriate and human-centred humanitarian response, there is concern that without fully recognising the technical complexity of the WASH sector, a push towards “cash-based programming as the preferred and default method of support” risks focusing on the provision of WASH goods and services to the detriment of more holistic rights based, and public health approaches. This paper seeks to locate CTP within the wider spectrum of market based approaches, articulate the motivations and concerns around the use of MPG in the WASH sector, make recommendations for addressing barriers and concerns, initiate a pro-active role for the GWC in influencing and developing the global markets agenda.
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