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Cash 101: Cash and Voucher Assistance Explained

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State of the World’s Cash 2020 Chapter 2: Mainstreaming CVA – progress; risks & challenges


CVA, including multipurpose cash, is an increasingly common and well-understood tool in humanitarian response, but barriers remain to its use.

To ensure that CVA is used wherever it is the most appropriate tool, there is a
need for stronger response analysis, but this faces technical, political, and resourcing barriers. The inclusion of response analysis in humanitarian response plans marks progress, but more is needed, including within the cluster system.

Robust response analysis must be based on strong multisector needs and market assessments.

Multisector market assessments are often under-utilized,
insufficiently collaborative, and data is not regularly shared.


Sectors have made good progress with the use of CVA but concerns about programme quality and achievement of outcomes remain a barrier for some.


Cash is not inherently riskier than other types of aid, but perceptions continue to affect the uptake of CVA. Many of the most significant perceived risks relate to programme quality.

Perceptions of digital and data management risks have increased in prominence. Humanitarian actors need to work quickly to agree what ‘doing no digital harm’ looks like.


  • All humanitarian actors should support the strengthening and systematic use of response analysis underpinned by robust multisector needs assessments. These should incorporate both multipurpose cash and sector specific CVA within an integrated programming framework.
  • All humanitarian actors should support the proposed actions of the Grand Bargain Workstream on Joint Needs Assessment to improve resourcing, coordination, and accountability for multisector assessment and analysis.
  • All relevant humanitarian actors should work together to further develop evidence for achieving sector specific outcomes through CVA, including multipurpose cash, and routinely consider sectoral CVA response options.
  • Where there are perceptions that CVA is inherently riskier than other types of assistance, humanitarian actors should challenge these assumptions based on the wide body of existing evidence.
  • Operational agencies and donors should prioritise digital data risk management as an area for skills and knowledge development.

Cash 101: Cash and Voucher Assistance Explained

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