Learning Lessons from Cash and Voucher Based Responses to the Tsunami

On 26 December 2004 the largest earthquake in 40 years and the resulting tsunamis devastated coastal communities in 10 nations in Asia and East Africa. One of the issues facing actors involved in the response has been what type of assistance it is most appropriate to provide.Cash based approaches have formed part of the response and have included cash grants, cash for work, support to rebuild houses, for families hosting displaced people and for the recovery of livelihoods. International and local NGOs, governments, the Red Cross movement and UN agencies have all been involved in implementing, monitoring and funding cash based approaches.

The relative newness of cash and voucher based approaches means that standards, practical programming guidelines and staff with experience of designing, managing and monitoring cash approaches are not widely available. Agencies are therefore grappling with a range of new issues and are keen that the lessons learnt from these relatively new approaches are documented and shared, both to inform future responses, improve ongoing programming and to inform advocacy strategies around the most effective and appropriate forms of relief.

Individual aid agencies are, however, struggling to cope with the huge scale of the Tsunami response and are all grappling with severe capacity constraints, particularly in human resources. In this context, the time and expertise needed to document experiences, develop robust monitoring and evaluation systems, and develop and share standards, principles and guidelines, is in short supply. In response to these capacity constraints this project aimed to support aid agencies to learn lessons from cash and voucher based responses.