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What is stopping cash from transforming humanitarian aid?

Over six episodes, Series 2 of CashCast explores what’s holding humanitarian cash assistance back from reaching its full potential: Where has change flourished or faltered? And what can we do about it? Together, with our seven fascinating guests, we delve into issues around CVA transformative change, people-centred aid, localisation, accountability, and emerging technological opportunities and dilemmas.

7 December 2023

Cash and voucher assistance (CVA) is often championed as one of the most significant changes in the humanitarian system in recent years. Its use has massively increased and now accounts for about 21% of international humanitarian assistance, up from a little under 14% in 2017. This growth has impacted the way the humanitarian system works, forcing change in the way things are done and who does them.  But at the same time many argue that the full transformative power of cash has not been realised. Why is this?

In this series of CashCast, we’ll be exploring where change has happened and where it hasn’t. We’ll be questioning what’s enabled change, and what has stood in its way, with all episodes linking to each other.  Our guests reflect on what’s happened and look to the future, they offer interesting insights, examples and solutions, drawing on their diverse backgrounds and experiences.

We invite you to listen and share your comments, ideas, and reflections with us!


Explore the Episodes

1-Can Cash Change the Humanitarian System?

Does cash have the potential to help transform the humanitarian system and become better at responding to needs and preferences of people in crisis?

Featuring Christina Bennett

2-Cash – How Can We Unlock its Real Potential?

If cash is going to reach its full potential and transform the humanitarian system, what changes need to happen first?

Featuring Meg Sattler and Innocent Tshilombo

3-Is Cash the Key to More People Centred Aid?

What does people-centered aid look like in practice, particularly when we think about cash and voucher assistance? What makes people centred aid different or is just a new buzz phrase? Have we been here before?

Featuring Innocent Tshilombo, Caroline Teti and Meg Sattler

4-Can Cash Make the Humanitarian System More Accountable?

In this episode we explore accountability issues within the humanitarian system, their root causes and potential solutions. We ask if cash and voucher assistance has a part to play in improving accountability, and what that could look like.

Featuring Caroline Teti, Innocent Tshilombo, Meg Sattler, Christina Bennet, and Laura Walker.

5-Is Large-scale Cash Compatible with Locally Led Response?

This episode challenges the idea that locally led response and large-scale CVA are incompatible. We explore the myths around local actors and the barriers to further progress.

Featuring Ahmed Ibrahim Abdi, Chris Hoffman, and Christina Bennet

6-Will New Technologies Help Deliver More and Better Cash?

Tech brings new opportunities, risks, and dilemmas. Could the combination of technology and cash bring transformative change and finally make aid more people-centered? What are the risks and what are the opportunities?

Featuring Laura Walker and Chris Hoffman

CashCast is an occasional podcast from the CALP Network that looks in depth at the critical debates in humanitarian cash and voucher assistance (CVA).

Your Host

Karen Peachey

Karen joined CALP in early 2017 and became the Director in April 2018. She has worked in both development and humanitarian contexts since the 1990s. Among many other things, Karen has a keen interest in networks, the power of collective action, and how systems change happens.

The Guests for this Series

Ahmed Ibrahim Abdi

Ahmed is the Convener of the Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) Humanitarian Network, the Vice Chair of the Council of the Africa Humanitarian Organisations Network (AHN) and Chair of the Kenya Charter for Change (C4C) Working Group.

Caroline Teti

Caroline is the Global Director of Recipient Advocacy at GiveDirectly. She is a social scientist trained in Development Communications, Gender, and Human Rights with 20 years of experience working for non-profits in Africa.

Christopher Hoffman

Chris is the CEO of Humanity Link, an impact driven digital communication firm that enables communication services to people in need everywhere. He brings 20 years of experience in the field of humanitarian and development innovation.

Christina Bennett

Christina is the CEO of Start Network, a growing global membership of local, national and international NGOs. She has more than 20 years of experience in humanitarian policy and practice, including field work in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South Sudan.

Innocent Tshilombo

Innocent is a humanitarian whose experience as a refugee has strongly informed his perspectives. He is the founder of Kakuma Ventures in the camp and in 2020/2021 he pursued his Master’s in humanitarian action at the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies.

Laura Walker McDonald

Laura is a technologist, lawyer, and strategist with more than 15 years of global experience in the aid and development space. She is currently the Senior Advisor, Digital Technology and Data Protection for the Regional Delegation for the US and Canada of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Meg Sattler

Meg is a Humanitarian Aid consultant specialising in Accountability to Affected Populations. Currently the Director at, Ground Truth Solutions, she has also held senior roles with OCHA, UNICEF, the Start and CDAC Networks and the UN World Food Programme.