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LEGS Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA)

October 2023 — By Emma Jowett

The Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) Handbook is a guide for implementing livestock-based livelihood interventions in emergency situations and is used by humanitarian agencies, governments, donors and academic institutions to design, implement, monitor and evaluate these emergency responses.

In the third edition, published in June 2023, key changes include a greater focus on the principles that underpin LEGS, as well as step-by-step guidance on how to use the LEGS tools to develop an emergency response plan.

Most pertinently to this paper, the third edition of the LEGS Handbook introduces a greater focus on using cash and voucher assistance (CVA) as a modality for livestock-based livelihood responses in emergency situations. Traditionally, responses to livestock-dependent households affected by disasters have been through the provision of inkind inputs, such as fodder, water, or provision of livestock or veterinary services. However, there is increasing evidence that using CVA as a tool for emergency programming can improve the quality and effectiveness of such programmes, while allowing affected households greater choice and dignity, and the ability to set their own priorities. CVA has been shown to be effective in increasing household purchasing power, improving access to livestock inputs and protecting livestock assets.

The third edition of the LEGS Handbook provides not only comprehensive guidance and tools to ensure the option of using CVA to support livestock-dependent households during emergencies, but also an endorsement of the validity of using CVA as a tool to protect, support and rebuild livestock-based livelihoods after a crisis.

Here are some of the key changes that were made to the LEGS Handbook in the third edition in relation to CVA as a modality:

  • Chapter 3: Emergency Response Planning provides information on using CVA as an emergency response modality, explains terminology and provides a response options decision tree.
  • Each technical chapter (feed, water, veterinary support, shelter, livestock offtake and the provision of livestock) has integrated explanations of how CVA could be used as a response modality. Each of the five key tools for analysing the suitability and feasibility of the selected intervention(s) and option(s), included in all the technical chapters, now integrates CVA alongside in-kind options, as well as providing guidance on monitoring.
  • Case studies have been updated to include more examples of successful CVA programmes.

The third edition of the LEGS Handbook is available as a free download from the LEGS Project website: