U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


What are the biggest corruption risks in Cash for Work projects and how can they be mitigated? I am especially interested in risks concerning the selection of the beneficiaries of those activities as well as the mechanisms/tools to minimise those risks.


  1. Corruption risks in Cash for Work programmes
  2. Mitigations strategies
  3. References


Primarily used in humanitarian interventions, Cash for Work programmes refer to short-term interventions providing temporary employment in public projects to the most vulnerable segments of a population. While donors are sometimes reluctant to consider such cash-based approaches due to perceptions that they may be more vulnerable to corruption and theft, there is little evidence that cash-based interventions are more prone to corruption than other forms of assistance. As with other cash-based interventions, Cash for Work programmes have been promoted as a cost effective approach likely to limit corruption opportunities by eliminating the role of intermediaries along the implementation chain and reducing corruption risks associated with procurement, storage and transport of in-kind assistance.

However, these interventions face other types of corruption challenges, especially at the targeting phase of the programme, such as targeting criteria, corrupt inclusion or exclusion of beneficiaries, or multiple or “ghost” registrations and workers as well as challenges in the transfer of cash.
Addressing corruption challenges in Cash for Work programmes involves establishing clear, transparent and efficient targeting mechanisms, choosing reliable and context-specific cash distribution systems, ensuring transparency and participation of beneficiaries and putting robust monitoring and evaluation systems in place.


Marie Chêne, Transparency International, [email protected]


Finn Heinrich, PhD, Transparency International




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