There is limited literature that rigorously measures cost efficiency of programme modalities, or that compares modalities. The key points raised in the literature include the following:
- Transfer appropriateness is context-specific and determined by multiple factors including programme objectives
- Cash transfers are generally found to be the least-cost modality – which suggests opportunities to expand coverage or build complementarities
- The provision of cash requires well-functioning local food markets – questions of access to markets, increase in supplies to local markets, potential price fluctuations and competitiveness should be assessed
- Consideration should be given to transfer value and price fluctuations, particularly for cash and vouchers, as they are rarely index-linked and risk potential value loss when food prices rise – from this perspective, in-kind food transfers shield beneficiaries from inflation while cash transfers risk erosion
- Different priorities may compete, such as timeliness, cost-effectiveness, local market effects, recipient satisfaction, food quality, impact on smallholder suppliers, and livelihoods
- A single modality may not be always preferable
- Intra-household preferences and intended beneficiary choices on type of modality should be assessed.