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PRM supports effective, efficient, and appropriate use of cash and voucher assistance (CVA), also known as cash transfer programming (CTP) and cash based assistance (CBA), which can offer people in need choice and support individual empowerment, while increasing efficiencies, supporting local actors, and stimulating local economies.  While it’s a common perception that distributing food or supplies is the best way to help people when crises strike, CVA is often the most effective way to help people get back on their feet and on their way to recovery. As part of the Grand Bargain, an agreement to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian system, the United States and other donors, NGOs, UN agencies, and humanitarian actors committed to increasing the use and coordination of CVA. 

We also know there is an inextricable relationship between assistance and protection – any agency doing one without considering the ramifications of the other may put beneficiaries at enormous risk. To the extent possible, we aim to grant our implementing partner agencies the flexibility to determine the most effective and empowering methods of delivering protection and humanitarian assistance, whether through CVA or other modalities, as long as protection is paramount. 

What Is Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA)?

The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) defines Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) as a modality for providing humanitarian assistance that uses local markets and services to meet the needs of persons of concern through the provision of cash (in the form of prepaid debit cards, mobile transfers, paper money, or cash-for-work),  cash equivalents (e.g. bank deposit, mobile money), or vouchers redeemable for certain goods. These may be conditional (i.e., on participating in a work project) or unconditional; restricted (intended for a specific expenditure) or unrestricted. 

When Do We Use CVA in Humanitarian Assistance?

Cash, vouchers, in-kind assistance, service provision, and other forms of aid are all critical tools for the humanitarian toolbox.  PRM employs an “equal playing field” approach to determining the tool or modality best suited to the humanitarian context. Our implementing partners select modalities according to appropriateness, feasibility, program objectives, cost-efficiency, and beneficiary preference. 

As with all types of assistance, we place a high priority on humanitarian protection to ensure that our assistance does not put our beneficiaries at further risk. Therefore, to the greatest extent possible, we aim to grant our implementing partners the flexibility to determine the most effective and empowering methods of delivering protection and humanitarian assistance. 

Additionally, we aim to ensure that CVA not only empowers individuals by providing choice, but also has a positive impact on local economies, promotes beneficiary self-reliance, and supports relief and development coherence to maximize impact and market-driven programming. 

U.S. Department of State

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