human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Cash & voucher assistance

Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA), previously referred to as Cash Transfer Programming (CTP), is a common option for humanitarian response.

According to the official definition of the Cash Learning Partnership, CVA refers to all programmes where cash transfers or vouchers for goods or services are provided directly to aid recipients. Concretely, this means that humanitarian organisations provide cash or vouchers to the persons in need, who are then free to decide how to best satisfy their first vital needs. CVA is increasingly replacing in-kind distribution, such as food or non-food items (e.g. blankets, clothes, hygiene kits, etc.). The term is used only to refer to cash transfers or vouchers given to individuals, households or communities, not to governments or to other state actors. This excludes remittances and microfinance in humanitarian interventions.

There is a consensus in the humanitarian community that CVA is often the best form of assistance to provide during an emergency. It maintains the dignity of the person who can thus meet his/her own needs and those of his/her family. It is more cost-efficient and has a multiplier effect on local markets (the presence of an active local market is clearly a pre-condition for choosing CVA).

However, an accurate assessment is needed to decide whether or not CVA is appropriate. Possible risks need to be explored and evaluated, such as the risk of diversion of funds, corruption, safety of staff and of people in need as well as concerns related to data protection.

To better coordinates efforts and reflections on this topic, Caritas Internationalis set up a Cash Working Group (CCWG) of which Caritas Europa is a member.

Read more in the CCWG’s position paper on Cash and Voucher Assistance, available in English, French and Spanish.