Since the first State of the World’s Cash report we have seen huge developments in cash and voucher assistance (CVA), with a continued increase in scale driving changing roles and partnerships, and a growing emphasis on quality. This new report, State of the World’s Cash 2020, examines progress, changes, and challenges in the use of CVA within the rapidly shifting humanitarian landscape over the last two and a half years. It provides:
■ A neutral and critical analysis of the current state of CVA globally, including the extent to which it is contributing to quality in humanitarian programming and outcomes for people in need
■ An assessment of progress against the benchmark data collected for the 2018 report, identifying notable changes, challenges and gaps which may affect further progress
■ Practical actions which can be applied – individually, organizationally and collectively – by stakeholders to support further progress and address gaps and challenges
■ An analysis of the emerging implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report starts with a short overview of four key shifts that became apparent during the research and analysis for this report. This is followed by very short summaries of each chapter. These summaries offer some key reference points but we urge readers not to stop there. Each chapter of this report is full of rich findings, analysis and reflections on what more is needed to strengthen the CVA system. The State of the World’s Cash 2020 follows the same structure as the first report, tracking progress against the key objectives of the Global Framework for Action (GFA) – see annex 1. New chapters have also been added to this report on three key emerging areas: localisation, social protection and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2017, the GFA rightly focused on humanitarian actors and their processes, with commitments and actions framed in terms of increasing scale and quality, building capacity, routinely considering and effectively coordinating CVA. The changes CVA is now driving go far beyond these processes, challenging the ways we work, the partners we work with and the role of humanitarian actors vis-a-vis the people we serve. As such, we will need to develop new benchmarks to measure future progress that are rooted in a) the perspectives of affected communities and recipients of assistance, and b) an understanding of the role of CVA in the broader context of the humanitarian system and other forms of financial assistance. During the analysis and drafting stage of this report, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. In many parts of the world, people who were already in crisis have been severely affected, and many others have been pushed into need and are no longer able to cope without assistance. The pandemic has massively impacted humanitarian operations, including CVA, with significant implications for the future, many of which remain unclear at this stage. Rather than integrate COV1D-19 into all chapters, an additional chapter has been added which examines the impacts to date, and identifies five windows of opportunity for change in CVA and the humanitarian system as the pandemic unfolds. If you want to understand how CVA is being delivered and what this means for humanitarian action, as well as the key challenges that remain, this report is a must-read.