Project overview

CBT Cash Back provides monetary incentives to encourage positive spending habits among recipients of WFP's cash-based transfers of food assistance.



The problem

In some contexts where WFP operates, food and services are available locally, but people lack the financial resources to purchase them. Social safety nets are thus shifting to providing humanitarian assistance in the form of cash transfers, allowing individuals to buy what they most need in their local markets. By putting purchasing power in people's hands, cash transfers can help strengthen local markets and economies, contributing to long-term resilience.

The challenge is that cash-based social assistance programmes may not fully achieve their primary objectives because of the flexibility of cash and the often multiple competing needs of recipients. For example, cash-based programmes that aim to enhance food security will need to ensure people spend their entitlements on nutritious food than other items. Social and behavioural change communication may not be sufficient on its own to achieve this goal.


CBT Cash Back

WFP's cash transfers include assistance distributed as physical bank notes, e-money, mobile money, through debit cards or value vouchers which are redeemable at locally-contracted shops. In the photo: WFP's e-voucher outlet in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. WFP/Sayed Asif Mahmud. 



The solution

CBT Cash Back is WFP's innovation project that combines social and behavioural change communication with a monetary incentive to encourage positive spending habits among recipients of cash entitlements.

The CBT Cash Back mobile app allows recipients of humanitarian cash transfers to purchase nutritious food from participating partner stores. It promotes healthy food consumption by rewarding users with cash-back reimbursements equal to 25 percent of their purchase price when they buy items from five pre-defined food groups. Cloud-based records from the app generate insights on user spending habits. These insights can be used to adjust and personalize community messages to stimulate positive spending habits.


CBT Cash Back

A mother cooks lunch for her family at their home, with fresh food she bought at the local markets, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: WFP/Wahid Adnan.



The way forward

Throughout the WFP Sprint Programme, the CBT Cash Back team is running a pilot project in Dhaka using a customized version of the mobile app for refugee camps. In-depth monitoring and scientific studies accompany the pilot to document its impact and effectiveness.

The next phase of the pilot programme, scheduled for the following fiscal year, will be integrated into a local safety net operated by the Government of Bangladesh. The team aims to roll out further iterations of the project in subsequent years, taking it to scale.


CBT Cash Back

"Because of COVID-19 and the recent fire, we lost our savings. But this programme is helping us to fight back," says Abul Hossain, a participant in the CBT Cash Back pilot in Sattala Bosti, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: WFP/Asif Mahmud.



Last updated: 13/04/2022