Although Malawi as a whole received a good harvest in 2006 creating a national grain surplus some areas of the country experienced dry spells that damaged crops and greatly reduced the harvest, Northern Dowa was one such area. In these areas households are expected to be missing at least 30% of their food entitlement, as the poor harvest will have reduced incomes and market failures will maintain high food prices in these localities. Based on previously successful cash based interventions and lessons learnt, Concern Worldwide proposed implementing a cash transfer programme to meet this humanitarian need. This resulted in the Dowa Emergency Cash Transfer (DECT) programme funded by DFID. In addition to meeting the humanitarian needs DECT was also designed to test electronic cash delivery modalities drawing lessons for social protection programmes and also intended to better understand, document and interact with local markets. IDS were commissioned to carry out an external evaluation of the programme, not only to asses the impact of the intervention on beneficiaries ability to deal with the current food crisis but also to inform policy for the organization as a whole as to the appropriateness of this type of transfer in relief settings and the prospects for scaling up as a longer term social protection programme.