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Cash 101: Cash and Voucher Assistance Explained

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Alignment Options for Humanitarian Cash with the Ukrainian Social Protection System

August 2023 — By Mercy Corps

Cash assistance, and multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA) specifically, are a vital part of the humanitarian response in Ukraine. Over half of the projects listed in the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan have a cash transfer or voucher component. By June 2023, approximately 8 million people received multi-purpose cash assistance from 50 organizations (Ground Truth Solutions, 2023). Cash-based interventions have proven to be an effective response method for both internally displaced persons (IDPs) in government areas, and for conflict-affected people in non-government controlled areas where markets still function.

The concurrence of the ongoing fighting with natural disasters (e.g., harsh winters, floods, wildfires) is increasing the needs of the Ukrainian population. There is a greater push to link humanitarian cash-based interventions, including MPCA, with the national social protection (SP) system to supplement national social assistance benefits to more adequately, sustainably, and comprehensively deal with both the immediate and longer-term needs in a more harmonized manner.

The Collaborative Cash Delivery network (CCD) partnered with Ukraine Cash Consortium (UCC) to build on CCD’s work of mapping the SP system in Ukraine to advance in identifying alignment options for humanitarian cash assistance design programming within Ukraine’s SP system. The exercise first started with the facilitation of a workshop on 4 July 2023 attended by CCD Community of Practice members and other relevant stakeholders such as the Cash Working Group (CWG) chairs, the CWG Task Team 5 (TT5) members and the Perekhid Initiative’s Technical Assistance Facility members. Invitations to the workshop were extended to organizations outside of the CCD to ensure coordination and synergies between all SP related initiatives.

This discussion paper is building on the workshop and aims to present humanitarian organizations with program design options for humanitarian cash programming aligning to the SP system in Ukraine. This paper begins with an overview of the situation in Ukraine, then moves to a brief description of structure of the SP system in Ukraine and a brief snapshot of the emergency cash transfers currently being delivered by humanitarian actors and the government. The last section provides a gap analysis of the current benefits across the lifecycle along with recommendations of how humanitarian actors can link with and fill the gaps of the cash benefits provided through Ukraine’s social insurance and social assistance systems.

This discussion paper aims to be a live document to be continuously updated according to new humanitarian and SP developments. Moreover, this paper is accompanied by a separate summary paper.

Finally, another forthcoming CCD/UCC paper will be analysing the operational alignment of the response to reflect on the levels of and existing barriers to alignment along the delivery cycle of MPCA.


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