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Ongoing research

Anticipatory Cash and Voucher Assistance: Lessons and Recommendations from the Asia-Pacific Region

Anticipated end date: 11 August 2024

Contact: Michael Belaro

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Asia and the Pacific remain the most disaster-prone region in the world. The Asia-Pacific region is home to an estimated 70 percent of those affected by natural hazards. The region’s meteorological, climatological, and hydrological disasters, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones, are becoming more frequently occurring and destructive. Between 2021 and 2023 alone, the region experienced a series of devastating disasters related to these hydrometeorological hazards: massive floods in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan; heatwaves in India and Pakistan; drought in Afghanistan; Tropical Storm Megi in the Philippines; Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar and Bangladesh; and the impact of El Niño in the equatorial pacific. These occurrences highlight the region’s susceptibility to disasters, which significantly affect marginalized groups and at-risk populations, particularly women, girls and people with disability. As a result of climate change, hazard risk in existing hotspots in the region is likely to intensify, and new hotspots could emerge in the future.

As part of their broader emergency preparedness and response operations, humanitarian and development partners supporting governments in Asia and the Pacific have shifted their focus to developing, implementing, and institutionalizing Anticipatory Action (AA) in an effort to capitalize on this expanding capacity. Since the first AA pilots in the region – in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Mongolia – around 2015–2017, AA initiatives have been established in at least 14 countries.

Anticipatory action is a set of interventions that are carried out when a hazard poses imminent danger based on a forecast, early warning or pre-disaster risk analysis. Anticipatory action is taken by an individual or organization before an anticipated disaster to mitigate its impact on people, assets and infrastructure that are likely to be affected.

The use of cash in the anticipatory action approach is considered to be an appropriate means for providing timely, cost-efficient, and effective assistance to vulnerable households within the limited timeframe for action. Cash is often preferred over in-kind assistance since it presents fewer challenges in terms of procurement, storage, and transport. In the Southern Africa region, anticipatory cash represents in volume, almost 70% of the AA response, according to the Dialogue Platform. It has been highlighted that there is a need for more research and technical guidance material for both cash in emergency response and anticipatory action practitioners to adopt common standards in effectively addressing the needs of the affected population.

The State of the World’s Cash (SOWC) 2023 Report found that there are relatively limited documented resources available on the use of CVA in anticipatory action, with a range of questions to answer to better understand the outcomes of, and how, when, and where anticipatory cash can be most effectively deployed. Key topics to explore and questions to answer outlined in the report include scalability for rapid and slow onset crises, funding mechanisms, roles of various actors, including government and non-traditional partners, coordination, and required complementary intervention to increase the effectiveness of anticipatory CVA. For this reason, CALP is commissioning this study to consolidate learning and draw recommendations from the experiences of humanitarian organizations in the Asia-Pacific region.

OBJECTIVES

Main objective
To support relevant stakeholders in better understanding the efficiency, effectiveness, and impacts of anticipatory cash in selected focused countries (Bangladesh, Philippines, Nepal, and Viet Nam), capturing key lessons and recommendations in the design and delivery of anticipatory CVA in the Asia-Pacific region.

Specific objectives

• Review the literature available in the region and focused countries, on anticipatory CVA to explore the learnings-to-date from the design and implementation of programs with different pilots, activation of protocols, and various initiatives on anticipatory action.

• Analyze collected data and develop country case studies/samples capturing key challenges and lessons on efficiency, effectiveness, and evidence of impact focusing on impact and to provide practical recommendations informing the current and future practice.

• Document the use of anticipatory cash and its effect in the Asia-Pacific region to contribute to the evidence at the regional and global levels.

Specifically, the study will focus on answering the following questions:

1. What is the added value of anticipatory cash compared to emergency cash response?
2. How, when and where can cash be most effectively used in anticipatory action (taking account of differences between modalities, and factors such as conditionality, and complementary interventions)?
3. How to improve Anticipatory Cash/CVA to better address population needs specifically on the appropriateness of cash transfer value and timeliness of delivery of assistance upon reaching the response triggers.