Cash and vouchers are increasingly being used in humanitarian emergencies, so that the people affected can decide for themselves what their most urgent needs are. (Photo: NRC)

Building cash capacity

Ida Sem Fossvik|Published 16. Nov 2015
Stand-by experts on cash and markets are available to support UN agencies and other organisations working with cash transfer programming in humanitarian emergencies.

The Cash and Markets Standby Capacity Project aims to increase the use and effectiveness of cash and markets programming in all stages of a crisis, from preparedness and prevention to emergency and recovery activities. 

One of the main challenges with cash programming today is a lack of coordination and collaboration. Because coordination of cash-based interventions does not fit the regular coordination structures, actors have trouble working together. They lack expertise in planning and coordinating across multiple sectors. The result is a myriad of different cash responses. In addition, there is also a lack of analysis on protection issues related to cash programming. 

This undermines the promise of cash programming - meeting different needs with one multi-sector response, and giving people in need agency and choice. 

CashCap contributes to solving these issues and provide aid in an efficient, dignified and convenient way. 

Developing capacity on cash programming

CashCap deploys senior experts to provide multi-agency support at all levels and in all states of a crisis. The experts facilitate planning, coordination and implementation of cash programming across sectors, without an agency-specific agenda. They also build capacity within host agencies, national and local stakeholders. 

Since April, we have had to reject requests from emergencies in countries such as Somalia, South Sudan and Niger, due to lack of funding. At present, nine CashCap experts are on assignment, supporting nine different emergency responses. We cannot endorse new requests before funding is confirmed. 

Read: Why cash matters

Request support

UN agencies, integrated missions, national authorities and INGO networks can request support from CashCap. The deployments constitute free support to the agencies.

"We encourage all those who think they could use the support from a CashCap-deployment to get in touch with us", says Linn Bogsnes Miles, Adviser for CashCap at NORCAP.

CashCap is an inter-agency project, managed by the Norwegian Refugee Council's Expert Deployment capacity, NORCAP. Its work is guided by a steering committee consisting of the global Food Security Cluster, World Food Programme, UNHCR, Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Vision International, Action Contre la Faim, the UK Department for international development (DFID), European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the Cash Learning Partnership (technical adviser). 

Capacity and coordination

The first deployments took place in January 2016. Since then, CashCap has supported 16 responses and three global clusters.

In Yemen, a CashCap expert played a significant role in lifting the cash and markets working group to the highest strategic level of the humanitarian response, fostering a wider sense of ownership in the cash agenda for the entire humanitarian country team.

In Libya, cash assistance was initially perceived to be relevant only to internally displaced, returnees and host communities. Due to the CashCap expert's efforts to position cash at a strategically higher level and building on a wider evidence base, cash assistance is now a modality for all target populations, including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

In Syria, the CashCap expert supports a learning exchange between cash-implementing partners in Northern Syria and counterparts in the Syrian refugee response inside Turkey, to improve the quality and accountability of cash transfer programming in Northern Syria.

Scaling up interventions

"The use of cash in emergencies is growing as it is viewed as cost effective, supports local economies and gives beneficiaries the power to decide what they need", says Linn Bogsnes Miles.

The long term vision for CashCap is to deploy in larger numbers cash and markets experts to provide support not just at a technical level, but at operational and strategic levels as well.

"Therefore, we are also investing in capacity building efforts through a training and mentoring scheme externally to the roster", Linn Bogsnes Miles adds.

Interested agencies that do not currently have a MoU with NRC/NORCAP, are asked to please contact NORCAP's current Adviser for CashCap: