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Report

Cash-Based Solutions in Shelter and Settlements : Humanitarian Response Case Study, West Sumatra, Indonesia

2009 — By Isaac Boyd and Yenni Suryani

In many emergencies, shelter programs are implemented by the distribution of shelter or construction materials, so that CRS’ (Catholic Relief Service) program participants does not have to deal with procurement or the open market. Under certain circumstances (availability of local market, cultural acceptability, etc.), cash grants can be an innovative intervention that caters to program participants’ individual needs. Additionally, it contributes to the local economy and maintains the dignity of households, as well as freeing up agency resources to invest into providing targeted assistance and training that increase the sustainability of the response.

Following the emergency phase in West Sumatra, CRS conducted a rapid assessment and focused their program on the construction of transitional shelters. The initial plan was for CRS to procure and distribute shelter materials. CRS staff foresaw a challenge in only being able to supply a standard shelter packet regardless of variation in individual needs. Upon indepth market research, it became apparent that construction materials were available within the local market. Based on this finding, CRS adapted the method of intervention from material distribution to a cash-based solution using vouchers. This enabled CRS, working together with WALHI (a partner NGO), to provide a rapid and flexible method of assistance to support the community members as they reconstructed their homes. The program quality was ensured through targeted technical assistance and monitoring. CRS staff was able to put efforts into building strong partnerships with the community committees together with the post office, which became the key to the success of this project.