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People are on the move: Can the world of CVA keep up? Analysis of the use of CVA in the context of human mobility in the Americas

This study proposes a new vision for the implementation of cash and voucher assistance (CVA) in contexts of human mobility in the Americas region.

September 2022 — By Paula Gil Baizan, researcher and author. This study was commissioned by the CALP Network.

Situations of violence, conflicts, socioeconomic crises, and natural disasters are some of the multiple causes of the current increase in human mobility. This trend will continue to grow due to the accelerated deterioration of highly populated regions caused by climate change, and it is even estimated that this global phenomenon threatens to displace 200 million people by 2050.

The Americas region is a living example of this reality. After Syria, the displacement of Venezuelans is the second largest human movement worldwide; migration from and through Central America to the north continues to have a significant upward trend. One sign of this is that, as of the end of 2020, nearly 900,000 people from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were  forcibly displaced within their countries and throughout the region.

CVA has played a role in the humanitarian response for people on the move facing conditions of vulnerability. However, the use of CVA still faces significant challenges in terms of its acceptance when used to respond to people on the move including migrants, refugees, and displaced persons.

To highlight the challenges and opportunities that exist in the Americas region on the use of CVA in contexts of human mobility, the CALP Network commissioned the study “People are on the move: can the world of CVA keep up? Analysis of the use of CVA in the context of human mobility in the Americas”.

A new vision of human mobility 

This study offers four key contributions, which could be considered provocative, including:

  1. An analytical framework that shows a systemic approach to mobility where vulnerability caused by the inability to move is taken into consideration with other factors of vulnerability thus triggering humanitarian assistance.
  2. In this framework, mobility is on a spectrum, in a multivalent mental model, where the ability to move – motility – is a resource that people have in a range from mobility to immobility.
  3. Avoid use of the term “migrant”, which includes a multitude of people with very different needs and does not address the temporality, motivations, rhythm, or routes of people on the move.
  4. Understand human mobility from the perspective of the person on the move and not from the perspective of the agency providing services to these populations.

Equally important, through this publication it is hoped that:

  • The analytical framework used in this report will inform discussions on the inclusion of human mobility as a new pillar of work for the global CVA community.
  • The three case studies from the region that expose stranded migrants, payment ecosystems along migration routes, and lack of ownership as an obstacle to CVA implementation will highlight challenges and opportunities for CVA.
  • The three case studies will also be a useful resource for key stakeholders to design new lines of work around this issue.

Please explore this study and its associated products so that together we can continue to gather evidence, creativity, and innovation to improve the design and implementation of CVA and continue to positively impact so many people on the move.

This study is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the CALP Network and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.