For a number of years, Concern and other development organisations have increasingly provided humanitarian assistance in the form of cash to achieve their objectives: in our case, ending extreme poverty, whatever it takes. But how does cash and voucher assistance work, and why is it vital for efficiency, quality of response and value for money in the aid sector?
As the nature of humanitarian disasters changes, putting more people in need and for longer, how we respond needs to change too. Over the past years, new approaches to protect the lives of those affected by crises – short and long-term – have been trialled, with cash assistance proven to be one of the most effective at both saving lives and making limited funds go further.
Cash assistance is delivered through cash transfers or the provision of a voucher. The term ‘cash transfer’ means assistance in the form of money - either physical currency or electronic cash - to individuals, households or communities. Vouchers are provided in paper, token or electronic form. They can be either cash vouchers, which have a cash value (e.g. £15) and can be redeemed for goods up to that value, or commodity vouchers, which can be redeemed for a specific quantity of certain goods and services, (e.g. 5kg of maize). Or, they can be a combination of the two.
There are different ways of delivering cash transfers and vouchers, such as smart cards, mobile money transfer, cash in hand, bank transfers, electronic vouchers and paper vouchers.