In the early months of 2017, heavy wind and rains fed by an El Niño weather pattern battered Peru, triggering devastating flooding and mudslides.
The storms affected more than 1 million people, killing more than 100 and leaving houses and crops damaged and destroyed.
The heavy damage destroyed local infrastructure and disrupted local economies, causing sudden mass unemployment that left families badly in need of income. They needed help and they needed it quickly. It was a situation tailor-made for a solution increasingly favored by humanitarian organizations responding to emergencies:
Cash transfers have proven to be an effective and quick way to respond to the needs of those affected by sudden-onset emergencies, both giving people much-needed cash, while also injecting money into local economies.
Cash is the most flexible and efficient way to help those affected by disasters,” says Umer Khan, Lutheran World Relief’s senior director of emergency operations. “It gives communities the flexibility to address a broad range of needs, the power and dignity to control their own finances, and it helps revive and support local businesses — often small street shops — that have been affected by the disaster.
Cash transfer programs are increasingly becoming a go-to tool for humanitarian organizations. According to the Cash Learning Partnership, a global community of practice of more than 150 humanitarian organizations involved in cash transfer programming, approximately $2.8 billion in humanitarian assistance was disbursed through cash transfers and vouchers in 2016, an increase of 40 percent from 2015 and a boost of about 100 percent from 2014. Still, cash transfers accounted for just 10 percent of humanitarian assistance in 2016, up by 2.5 percent from 2015.
There are several methods of cash transfer available to humanitarian organizations responding to emergencies: