Beyond Basic Needs: Using Cash and Voucher Assistance to Support the Transition from Basic Survival to Livelihoods Recovery in a Resource-Strapped World

Do you think of yourself as a “cash” person OR as a “livelihoods” person? An “emergency” practitioner OR a “recovery” practitioner? Or do you find yourself unsatisfied with the often narrow implications of these terms? We’ll never have enough funding to provide basic needs support to everyone who needs it for the entire time they are in need, even if we take advantage of the relative efficiency of CVA. So we owe it to the crisis-affected people of the world to facilitate their recovery as expediently as possible by stepping out of our professional silos. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to do this, and many of them are relatively straightforward. We don’t all have to be cash or livelihoods experts, but we do have to be willing to start thinking like one another, at least in small-scale ways. This document outlines ten practices in which CVA can be leveraged to facilitate the transition from basic survival to livelihoods recovery, and then showcases what some of these practices look like in action, drawing from an IRC program in Nigeria. 

There is already substantial guidance on the design and implementation of both multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA) – used here interchangeably with the term basic needs CVA – and livelihoods recovery programs, and fairly well-established information on how to integrate CVA into livelihoods recovery programs. This document does not attempt to replicate that guidance. Instead, it focuses on how CVA can be used to facilitate the transition between basic survival and initial livelihoods recovery, by consolidating, presenting and showcasing existing learning and good practice related to the following key questions:

  • How can humanitarian actors implement basic needs/multi-purpose cash assistance in a way that helps lead to the longer-term livelihoods recovery of disaster-affected populations
  • What might a co-designed basic needs/livelihoods recovery program that incorporates CVA look like?