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Protection and Cash and Voucher Assistance

The content on this webpage has been developed with the Global Protection Cluster.

Introduction to the Protection Sector

The Protection Sector is concerned with the safety, dignity and rights of people affected by disaster or armed conflict and it aims to coordinate the response in order to address both – immediate protection concerns as well as effective prevention and reduction of protection risks. The Protection Sector comprises four distinct areas of responsibility, namely Child Protection, Gender-Based Violence, Mine Action, and Housing, Land and Property which provide technical advice and support in their specialised areas.

Protection activities may involve preventive actions that aim to stop, prevent or alleviate the worst effects of abuses, remedial actions to help people recover, and environment-building actions to create or consolidate an environment conducive to full respect for the rights of individuals and groups. A protection response may involve advocacy efforts as well as assistance programs designed to promote the rights, safety and dignity of persons of concern, including, among others: legal assistance, community outreach, case management, and creation of safe spaces for vulnerable individuals.

Credit: Giulio d’Adamo/WFP
Coupled with the existing challenges of extreme poverty, underdevelopment and climate change in the Lake Chad region, Boko Haram violence has led to one of the most acute – and sorely neglected – humanitarian crises in the world.
 Giulio d’Adamo/WFP

With the endorsement of the IASC Policy on Protection in Humanitarian Action (2016) which emphasises collective responsibility and contribution to protection outcomes by all actors in humanitarian action, the Protection Sector supports in-depth and integrated protection analysis, continuous protection monitoring as well as the mainstreaming of protection within and across other sectors.

How is Cash and Voucher Assistance used in the Protection Sector? 

Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) is used in protection programmes to address a range of household and individual protection needs and is designed to achieve specific protection outcomes that may vary per context and are subject to context-specific protection and risk analysis. This includes unconditional cash assistance for basic needs for persons with special requirements and acute vulnerabilities, single parents with multiple dependents, unaccompanied minors, persons with disabilities, survivors of violence and other categories of people deemed at heightened protection risk. CVA might also be used as part of a sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) prevention and response, for example as an emergency response assistance and subsistence allowance for survivors of SGBV. Unconditional as well as conditional cash transfers might also be used to support durable solutions for displaced people, assisting voluntary return with costs associated to transportation, reintegration and basic needs. In some contexts, cash assistance and grants are used to enable access to legal assistance and remedies. For instance, cash assistance might be used to cover cost of legal representation, civil documentation, transport to attend court hearings or visits to government offices.

What are the main challenges to the scale up of quality CVA in the Protection Sector? 

The evidence base on the use of CVA in protection programming suggests that cash assistance has potential to achieve protection outcomes albeit on a short-term basis, limited to the assistance period. Cash assistance alone are unlikely to achieve meaningful long-term protection outcomes if they are not embedded within case management and referral systems accompanied by complementary services and cross-sectoral programming. The challenge is to ensure that sufficient resources, including longer funding timeframes, staff capacities as well as availability of quality services are in place to enable comprehensive protection programming.

While the evidence on the use of cash assistance in protection programming is growing there are still gaps that remain in determining the best way (cash modality design and necessary complementary services) to reach longer term protection outcomes via integrated programming, including cash and voucher assistance. Other challenges include, among others political commitment of local government actors, resistance of implementing partners to accept cash programming, even if supported by sufficient evidence on its effectiveness, limited effective coordination at programme and policy level, the availability of quality state services as well as quality complaint and feedback mechanism allowing two-way communication between service providers and recipients.