Since the Cash Learning Partnership was first established in 2005, the nature of humanitarian crises, and the entities that respond to them, have shifted dramatically.
The scale and diversity of humanitarian need has challenged the aid community in new ways. The worsening impacts of climate change have been seen in floods, droughts and fires across the world. Displacement – fuelled by climate change and conflict – has come to dominate humanitarian need in the latter half of this decade. A geopolitical landscape of increasing polarization has also seen restrictions placed on aid from traditional donor countries.
But while cash and voucher assistance (CVA) was seen as a fringe interest in CaLP’s early years, it has now become a key tool in humanitarian response, accompanied by a growing body of evidence of its links to effectiveness, efficiency and accountability. This points to an aid community that is increasingly willing to embrace innovation, reassess established ways of working, and place collaboration above competition, to rise to the challenges we face.
Much remains to be done, but we are encouraged by the progress being made.
Since the publication of CaLP’s last Annual Report, cash and vouchers have provided lifesaving assistance and choice to people affected by emergencies across the world. Case studies from Colombia to Mozambique showed a growing determination from humanitarian actors to use CVA wherever it could be appropriate and viable. We have included some of these stories throughout this report to illustrate the transformative power of CVA in recent responses.
CaLP’s aim has always been to increase the scale and quality of CVA, and in 2019, it seems that significant progress has been made. Indeed, preliminary findings from the Development Initiatives Global Humanitarian Assistance report suggest that global volumes of humanitarian cash and voucher assistance grew by 68% from 2016 to 2018, to a total of US$4.7 billion.
Now we must focus on quality. Many CVA actors within the CaLP membership have shifted or are starting to shift their focus from scaling up, to giving more emphasis to questions related to the effective use of CVA. Through our ability to convene debates and influence policy, CaLP will ensure that the rise of cash is accompanied by a growing understanding of its intersection with critical issues such as protection, data responsibility and risk. We will do this by placing the needs and preferences of crisis affected people at the centre of our decision making, and supporting others to do the same.
The next ten years will likely see further radical shifts in the humanitarian landscape. As one of the most important innovations in emergency response, the use of cash at scale is likely to define the way we adapt and prepare for these changes. CaLP will continue to support humanitarian actors with the evidence, skills and guidance to ensure that humanitarian assistance today and tomorrow can offer the greatest choice, dignity and value for people affected by crisis.