Read caption Photo: NRC

Distributing cash and vouchers

Published 23. Apr 2016
A simple, powerful way to restore choice and dignity.

The South Sudanese farmer has very different obligations from the single Afghan mother. They know best how to care for their families.

We want to give displaced people more choice and self-sufficiency, and a sense of dignity. To better serve those under our care, NRC distributes cash and vouchers in addition to pre-allocated goods.

Maximising our impact

We integrate cash and vouchers into all our core activities, adapting our approach to each context. We give cash in the following ways:

  • Unconditional cash grants, which a displaced person can use for anything he or she needs.
  • Conditional/restrictive cash grants, designated for a certain use or to buy a certain item.
  • Vouchers, which can be exchanged for a specific quantity or value of goods or services.
  • Cash for work programmes, where displaced people earn money through work that also improves the community.
  • Electronic transfers, where a displaced person can receive a voucher or cash transfer through new technology, such as smart phones or ATM cards.

Our approach not only gives displaced people more flexibility, but can also help stimulate the local economy or trade. This maximises our impact on the ground.

Reaching hard-to-reach areas

We work in some of the most dangerous places on earth to help people who have fled war, conflict or disaster. Bringing them supplies is tough.

So we prioritise reaching remote areas with cash, to deliver immediate aid as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Empowering through cash and vouchers

AFGHANISTAN | Cash for shelter

In Afghanistan, we use a hybrid system of conditional cash grants and in-kind support to help build and repair shelters. This allows families to construct their homes according to their own households’ needs.

DR CONGO | Unconditional cash vouchers

We hold fairs in the DRC, where refugees can use NRC-distributed unconditional cash vouchers to buy goods they would not be able to otherwise. For 23-year-old Deborah, this is a lifeline.

JORDAN | Household vouchers

In 2015, refugees redeemed more than 99.5% of all vouchers for varying household items, in many ways proving to be more useful for individual families’ needs.

YEMEN | Emergency cash assistance

In the 2015 emergency, we gave unconditional cash handouts to 30,000 Yemenis so they could purchase food.

YEMEN | Cash grants for small businesses

Saleh Ozloq bought five beehives with a cash grant from NRC. In just six months, those five colonies quadrupled.


The CashCap Roster

The Cash and Markets Capacity Building Roster (CashCap) deploys senior cash and market programming experts to facilitate and strengthen capacity of the humanitarian sector to undertake and promote cash transfers in a crisis or an emergency. UN agencies, integrated missions, national authorities and INGO networks can request support from CashCap and cash experts will be deployed on short notice. The deployments are paid for by ECHO -funding and therefore constitutes free support to the agencies. Read more