The Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) is an effective tool to ensure beneficiary choice, enable access to assistance in logistically challenging locations, aid into localised response and encourage economic recovery in local markets. According to the ‘The State of the World’s Cash Report, 2020’, humanitarian assistance through cash and voucher has significantly increased. From the year 2016, which saw a significant increase in the cash from previous years, amounting to USD 2.8 billion has doubled by the year 2019. The estimated total amount of humanitarian assistance in 2019 was USD 5.6 billion.
The use of CVA in humanitarian contexts is rapidly gaining momentum. There have been greater systematic and policy changes seemingly increased in CVA intervention in half-a-decade. In the recent past, humanitarian agencies are increasingly incorporating cash transfers within their disaster response toolbox to deliver multi-sector objectives and respond to different types of emergencies including seasonal disasters, protracted crises, rapid-onset disasters, slow-onset chronic disasters as well as anticipatory actions. In an emergency response, CVA is an effective form of humanitarian aid in the right context. It efficiently and effectively utilizes scarce resources, stimulates the local economy, and preserves the dignity and choices of crisis affected populations.
Cash Transfer in Nepal up until April 2015 earthquake, was conducted in a small scale, mostly focused on delivery via Government-led social protection programming. They were also geographically and categorically segmented. Largely focused on social protection, cash transfers had not been used for major humanitarian relief. The then Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) had developed guidelines for Cash for Work during 2015 earthquake which was only compatible for the earthquake context such as debris clearance among others.
However, with change in the government structure from a centralized to a federal structure, municipalities are mandated to oversee DRR and the response within their jurisdiction, the current Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) has developed a ‘template guidelines’ for Local Government to implement CVA, however, the guideline has yet to be endorsed by the Ministry.
The 2015 Earthquake marked the shift towards CVA in Nepal, where approximately 10% of the aid was served through CVA amounting to nearly USD 94.5 million which was previously limited to only welfare programs or small-scale assistance. The humanitarian CVA was a highly appropriate part of the response during the earthquake in respect to the challenges on delivering in-kind aid in road inaccessible regions but where the local market was still functioning after the disaster. Varying modalities such as unconditional cash grants, value vouchers and cash for work were used by the implementing agencies to aid into the earthquake response.