Increasing the Use of Humanitarian Cash and Voucher Assistance: Opportunities, Barriers and Dilemmas

The use of cash and voucher assistance (CVA) has grown rapidly in recent years, nearly doubling as a proportion of international humanitarian assistance since 2016 and now accounting for approximately 19%.1 The development is generally regarded as key evolutions in the humanitarian system in the last decade and change continues. A study in 2016 by the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) found that cash and voucher assistance (CVA) could account for 37–42% of all humanitarian assistance if it was the default modality where feasible and appropriate.2 The current use of CVA is far from that level and, while it continues to increase, the pace of growth has slowed. Looking at what is happening now, what people think is possible, and what the numbers are telling us – it is clear that there is potential to increase the use of CVA significantly more. It is also clear that there is no one large reservoir for growth and no simple accelerators – rather the growth potential will only be realised through multiple actions, by multiple organisations, in multiple places.