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The CALP Network’s 2018 Glossary: The key updates you need to know

The CALP Network Glossary is a comprehensive list of the terminology used in cash and voucher assistance, updated annually to reflect evolutions in which terms are used and how. The CALP Network's Ruth McCormack summaries the major revisions in the 2018 edition.

13 December 2018 — By Ruth McCormack

Have you ever got your restrictions and conditions in a terminological twist, or your modalities and delivery mechanisms mixed up? Are you losing sleep about how exactly to define multipurpose cash transfers? Fear not, for help is at hand in the form of the CALP Network’s new, improved Glossary.

The CALP Network has been publishing its Glossary since 2011, with the objectives of providing clarity and encouraging common understanding and harmonized use of terms and definitions for cash and voucher assistance. The Glossary is widely recognized across the sector as the authoritative resource when it comes to cash terminology, and is used by UN agencies, NGOs, working groups and donors to facilitate their work

Reflecting evolutions in which terms are used and how, since 2016 the CALP Network has been reviewing and revising the Glossary on an annual basis. This process is coordinated by the CALP Network Secretariat and undertaken through the CALP Network Technical Advisory Group (TAG). The TAG is a group of 25 experts, drawn from the CALP Network’s membership. Feedback on the glossary from anyone is welcomed on an ongoing basis, which is used to inform proposed edits and additions. These proposed changes are then put to the TAG for consultation, review and validation.

What’s changed in the 2018/19 Glossary revision?

  • Twenty terms have been added to this edition that are new to the CALP Network Glossary. Examples include cash in hand, encashment, financial assistance, intersectoral, labelling, and operational model. A further fourteen definitions have been revised, including basic needs, cash transfer, complementary programming, conditionality, minimum expenditure basket, multipurpose cash transfer, and restriction.
  • For the first time, the Glossary includes KEY TERMS & RECOMMENDED TERMINOLOGY. These are essential terms that are useful for anyone engaging on this topic to familiarize themselves with. These are also terms which the CALP Network recommends should be used. This is to encourage greater harmonization across all stakeholders to enable better clarity in planning and discussion. Key Terms are highlighted in the glossary by an icon.
  • the CALP Network has adopted CASH AND VOUCHER ASSISTANCE (CVA) as a new umbrella term to refer to the use of cash and vouchers in humanitarian assistance. To date a range of different terms have been used, including Cash Transfer Programming (CTP), Cash Based Assistance (CBA), and Cash Based Interventions (CBI). While those who are more familiar with the sector understand that terms such as CTP and CBI include both cash and vouchers, the language itself can be misleading. Also, having multiple terms to refer to the same thing is ultimately unhelpful and creates confusion.Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) is now a recommended term across the sector and will be rolled out in future the CALP Network publications, platforms and communications. It has the advantage of descriptively matching what it is in practice to reduce misinterpretation.
  • The new glossary has updated several definitions on the understanding that CASH = UNRESTRICTED and VOUCHERS = RESTRICTED. Restriction relates to the use of assistance by recipients. It is generally recognized that vouchers are restricted by default as they involve inherent limitations on where and how they can be used. Whether and to what extent cash transfers can be restricted continues to be a topic of debate. The Glossary recommends that it be recognized that cash transfers are unrestricted by default in that they can in practice be spent as a recipient chooses. This is reflected in revisions to the definitions for RESTRICTION, CONDITIONALITY, CASH TRANSFER, and VOUCHER.
  • A related addition is the term LABELLING. This is where cash transfers are named in terms of the needs they are intended to address (e.g. cash for shelter, cash for food) and the programme design aims to influence how recipients spend their cash e.g. through messaging, or the use of tranches which are conditional on demonstrating the specific use of previous cash transfers. This is distinct from an actual restriction on expenditure.
  • The definition of CONDITIONALITY has been updated. This now reflects that tranche-based payments which require recipients to demonstrate specific outputs or expenditures before receiving subsequent payments are conditional. Previously this type of programme design has been defined as both a condition and a form of restriction. This was confusing and does not align with the understanding that cash transfers are ultimately unrestricted in their use.
  • There are differing understandings of what constitutes multipurpose cash in the humanitarian sector. Is cash multipurpose by design, use, or funding allocation? ‘Multipurpose cash transfer’ is also frequently used interchangeably with the concept of ‘basic needs’, which describes the types of needs that multipurpose cash is usually designed to address. This glossary recommends that MULTIPURPOSE CASH TRANSFER (MPC) be understood primarily as assistance explicitly designed to address multiple needs on a cross-sectoral basis through a cash transfer. The extent to which a cash transfer enables basic needs to be met is dependent on the sufficiency of the transfer value provided, which should be considered when terms are applied to specific interventions.
  • The definition of BASIC NEEDS has been revised to reflect that this should comprise ensuring both long term survival AND minimum living standards. It also notes that assistance to address basic needs might feasibly be delivered through a range of modalities, including cash, vouchers, in-kind and services.

The new 2018/19 Glossary can be accessed online here, and is also available to download as a PDF in English and French.

We look forward to hearing about your experiences working with this new Glossary, and as always, welcome discussion on the topic on the D-Group forums. Please do also circulate this to colleagues to encourage the wider use of the Glossary.