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Glossary of Terms

First published in 2011, the CALP Glossary is designed to facilitate a common understanding and harmonized use of terms and definitions for cash and voucher assistance (CVA). 

It should be noted that these definitions apply to the use of CVA in humanitarian programming and may not reflect how some terms are understood in other contexts or by other audiences. 

The glossary, last updated in 2023, is available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish in both an online and PDF format. 

It is also available in German and Portuguese but in a PDF format only. 


Showing 11 of 182 Glossary terms

Activation (prepaid card or SIM)

Linking a person with a specific card or SIM and authorizing use of the card or SIM (by SMS, online activation, or phone). Also known as “personalization.”

Adaptive Social Protection (ASP)

Adaptive social protection aims to provide: i) increased access to safety nets among the poor and vulnerable, especially those identified as at-risk from shocks; ii) transfers to at-risk households before shocks occur to support savings and asset accumulation; and iii) safety nets leveraged to transmit information on exposure and vulnerability, informing actions in support of preparedness, coping, and adaptation.
Adaptive social protection is a broad category, and shock responsive social protection (SRSP) can be considered as a subset of ASP, as SRSP supports preparedness and coping whereas ASP also aims to build adaptive and transformative capacity.

[Adapted from Bene, C. (2012), World Bank (2020), IDS (2018), Davies, M, et al. (2013)]


Agents are entities that provide financial services relating to digital payments mechanisms – e.g., cash-out/cash-in , money transfer, other transactions – on behalf of a financial service provider (FSP) , such as banks, mobile network operators, or remittance companies. Agents earn income from transaction fees and are managed by the relevant FSP, often under a franchise-like model, and are frequently located in or form part of a retail business. Networks of agents are particularly critical in markets where many or most transactions are still conducted using physical cash, and people therefore require access to safe and convenient means of withdrawal and deposit.


An entity that consolidates financial transactions for processing, for example enabling the flow of payments between payers and recipients across multiple financial service providers (FSPs) .
Aggregators provide systems integration by connecting FSPs to third party systems. They may also provide additional services such as notification of successful payments, reconciliation, and receipts.

[Adapted from]

Alignment (with social protection)

Where an emergency response is designed to align with an (actual or future) social protection programme or system. When systems are not mature or do not penetrate across the entire country, humanitarian projects can be designed so that they might evolve over time into national social protection systems. This could be achieved through alignment of humanitarian interventions into something more predictable and ‘systemic’, or alignment with an existing or future social protection programme, to facilitate future integration and national ownership. ‘Alignment’ is the most difficult to define of the options in the shock responsive social protection typology, since a range of different actors, sectors or systems could be aligned, and for different purposes.

[Adapted from European Commission (2019) and OPM (2019)]

Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT)

Money laundering involves disguising the origins of criminally obtained proceeds, so they appear to be legitimate. Terrorist financing is the financing of terrorist acts, terrorists, and terrorist organizations.
Anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) refers to activities that financial and other institutions perform to achieve compliance with legal requirements (national and international) related to monitoring and reporting suspicious activities, or to follow internal frameworks set by FSPs related to AML/CFT. AML/CFT legislation may encompass a wide range of instruments, including banknotes, prepaid cards, vouchers denominated in national currency, virtual currencies, electronic money, mobile money, etc. These regulations can pose challenges to humanitarian organizations in terms of transferring funds to people in countries of operation, recipient identification and data security (e.g., relating to sanctions lists), and service provider compliance requirements regarding know your customer (KYC) and other regulations. Donors also generally demand higher standards for cash transfers with respect to AML/CFT than other types of assistance.

[Adapted from CALP (2020)] and Financial Action Task Force]

Anticipatory Action

Anticipatory action (also known as early action or forecast-based action ) means taking steps to protect people before an impending crisis through a combination of risk analysis, early warning and/or forecasts (with pre-agreed triggers), and pre-agreed financing. It must involve meaningful engagement with at-risk communities. CVA can be used in anticipatory action to help reduce the impacts of a predicted event on homes, livelihoods, and health. To be effective, this requires preregistration of recipients, functioning markets and having a transfer mechanism and FSP in place who can potentially register new clients within 2–3 days. Anticipatory action differs from early response which refers to actions undertaken immediately after a disaster occurs.

[Definition adapted from Early warning, early action | IFRC and]


Appreciation is a rise in the value of currency, typically within a floating exchange rate system.
Appreciation is typically reported as a percentage increase in the value of the local currency relative to hard currency.

[Adapted from Good Practice Review on Cash Assistance in Contexts of High Inflation and Depreciation]


Any physical, financial, human or social item of economic value owned by an individual or corporation, especially that which could be converted to cash. Assets can be categorized as human, physical, natural, financial and social.


The process by which the identity of a user who wishes to authorize a transaction or access a system or service is confirmed.  Authentication protocols may take many forms depending on whether validation is being done in person or electronically. Common methods of authentication include a personal identification number (PIN), password, and/or biometrics (fingerprint, iris scan, etc.)

[Partially adapted from]

Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

An automated teller machine (ATM) is a semi-automated machine that dispenses cash or performs other banking services without the aid of a bank teller (cashier) when an account holder inserts a bank card or relevant information.

[Cash Essentials Glossary]