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Cash 101: Cash and Voucher Assistance Explained

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Informing Decisions on Cash Programming Approaches: Building the evidence base to support shelter and settlements in humanitarian crises

2023 — By Madeline Burnham, Jim Kennedy, L. Babister, Leeanne Marshall, Jenny Weatherall

The primary objective of this research is to increase the confidence of practitioners in the humanitarian shelter and settlements sector who must choose among modalities. These modalities may include technical advice or essential items or construction materials provided in kind. The evidence provided by this research is intended to enable humanitarian shelter and settlements practitioners to provide more appropriate support, resulting in more successful outcomes for those affected by crises. This research contributes to the evidence base for supporting those who have lost their shelter and settlements in humanitarian crises. The purpose is not to produce a guidance note or a tool, but rather evidence that can underpin guidance and tools that may be subsequently developed.

After two consultations on research priorities commissioned by the Global Shelter Cluster, or GSC, “cash and markets” approaches were identified as a top research priority. Shelter cluster coordinators, in particular, were concerned about a lack of evidence to support decisions between modalities and a lack of ability to advocate for or against cash and markets approaches in their specific contexts. The lack of research into the use and impact of cash assistance to support shelter and settlement interventions leaves practitioners, and to some extent affected households, without the foundation of evidence they need to make decisions about cash assistance or to inform advocacy for or against the use of cash assistance. Shelter and settlements practitioners are more familiar with the use of conditional cash for reconstruction but have indicated that there are more questions about using cash for rental assistance or for multiple purposes. Based on the results of these consultations, a short, focused piece of research was agreed upon as a starting point for the GSC Cash and Markets Community of Practice to address the criteria necessary for deciding when and where cash programming is appropriate.

This report summarises the responses provided during interviews with 21 shelter practitioners with extensive field experience in a range of geographic locations and types of emergencies. The sample group of interviewees included a balance of genders, a range of organisations, those who have worked as programme managers as well as cluster coordinators or donors, those who have worked in many geographic locations, and those whose experience has been predominantly in one country or region. The findings from the interviews are accompanied by a summary of guidance resources. The findings are discussed in terms of the criteria used to make decisions, the influences which affect that decision-making in the field, and the constraints on being able to make evidence-based decisions.


Cash 101: Cash and Voucher Assistance Explained

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