Cash payments to ex-combatants are a common feature of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programmes, yet there is considerable debate in academic and donor circles about the benefits and risks of using them. Evidence on the impact of cash payments in DDR programmes is mixed, and experience has not been universally positive.
Cash payments may take various forms and be disbursed at either the disarmament, demobilisation or reintegration stage. They may be intended either as a temporary safety net to support household consumption, or to kick-start longer-term household investment. Cash may be disbursed in a lump sum, or periodically over time. Allowances may be allotted in lieu of or to supplement in-kind assistance. A variety of forms of cash payments have been used in DDR programmes in El Salvador, Haiti, Liberia, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Somalia, Indonesia, Philippines and Sierra Leone, among others. Most of the available case study material is focused on experience in sub-Saharan Africa, and there is relatively little evidence of the use of cash payments in DDR in Asia.
While there is broad agreement that using cash payments for securing disarmament has not been effective – primarily because such programmes have been seen as ‘cash for weapons’ – there is disagreement about the effectiveness of using cash payments at the demobilisation and reinsertion stage of DDR processes. There is considerable divergence of opinion on the benefits and risks of cash payments during these stages. While some experts argue cash payments can have a positive impact on economic development in local communities, others predict inflation and market distortion. While some support cash payments because they allow the recipient more flexibility in determining how he/she will spend the cash, others are concerned about the potential for cash to be misused by recipients. There is also considerable concern about the potential for cash payments to lead to corruption, and about the negative impacts of cash payments on community relations where payments are seen as reward for combat.