Community update: Cash and voucher assistance, January 2019

Jacqueline Frize
Jacqueline Frize
Jacqueline Frize is an independent humanitarian consultant focusing on assessment, response analysis, and capacity building.
First involved in cash for work and vouchers in 2000 as part of livelihoods interventions.
Community updates provide brief highlights from expert practitioners about what they see as the key developments in a specific area, what resources they would recommend, and what to look out for in the coming months.

Key developments in the area of CVA

New CaLP glossary

A new cash transfers related glossary shared by CaLP – with more emphasis on all forms of cash transfers and removal of the terminology around intended use/restrictions. The new glossary calls for the use of the terminology cash and voucher assistance – which would more accurately allow practitioners to track responses using cash, vouchers alongside in-kind and services for a true reflection of humanitarian assistance. The new glossary does away with some of the more complex terminology as well.

The primary objectives of this Glossary are to provide clarity and encourage common understanding and harmonized use of terms and definitions for cash and voucher assistance. Since CaLP produced the first version of this glossary in 2011, the scale and variety of humanitarian interventions using cash and/or vouchers has expanded significantly and brought the engagement of a wider and more diverse community of practice. These changes have also been reflected in an evolving understanding and use of some definitions, and the introduction of multiple new terms. It should be noted that these definitions are intended for application in relation to the use of cash and/or vouchers in humanitarian programming and may not reflect how some terms are understood in other contexts or by other audiences.

New course on Digital Humanitarian Cash

Digital Humanitarian Cash: Extreme Operations is an online course lasting five weeks for practitioners involving weekly tasks and discussion to better understand the role of digital cash in humanitarian responses.

This course is a general introduction to the use of digital payments in humanitarian aid. We focus on the mechanics of digital humanitarian cash transfers from the perspective of those distributing cash (humanitarian agencies) as well as those receiving it (beneficiaries). We also explore the benefits of digitized aid and the reality: that many programs are limited by the extreme conditions in which they operate. Along this journey, we pull from best practice in both the humanitarian and private sectors; counter popular assumptions; and ground recommendations with voices from humanitarian implementers, private sector partners, and the beneficiaries we want to serve.

New ICRC publication on CTP in armed conflict

A new ICRC publication – Cash Transfer Programming in Armed Conflict: The ICRC's Experience – provides insights on the role of cash transfers in conflict affected environments, which we often label as hard to access.

Money is the main means of survival for most people around the world. That remains the case in situations of armed conflict, when having cash to buy essential goods can mean the difference between life and death. The ICRC's experience shows that cash is an essential tool in humanitarian action in armed conflict. This report suggests two important principles of cash transfer programming (CTP) in armed conflict: first, although cash is often best, it is not always best. Second, just "doing cash" is not necessarily a success in itself. CTP is a tool of humanitarian action, not a humanitarian outcome in itself. CTP must be implemented strategically, in pursuit of clear humanitarian goals and in line with humanitarian principles, if it is to be the best way to meet people’s needs in a particular context. For this to be the case, a context must be not only "cash ready" but also "cash wise."


Recommended resources

New course on Digital Humanitarian Cash:

New ICRC publication on CTP in armed conflict:

Keep an eye out for...

Look out for progress on the debate around the Statement from the Principals of OCHA, UNHCR, WFP, and UNICEF on Cash Assistance from 5 December 2018.
PHAP community updates are written by members of the association and other practitioners in their personal capacity. The views expressed belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of PHAP or any other organizations with which the author is associated.