US $30 million in cash distributed to disaster affected

04 April 2018 - NAIROBI - The traditional image of aid trucks shipping tons of food aid to desperate African communities is morphing into new ways of delivering assistance to survivors of conflict and drought.

Aid agencies, like World Vision, are increasingly running sophisticated cash operations that month by month put currency directly into the hands of those who have very little. World Vision is now operating a US $30 million cash assistance operation in East Africa - meeting the needs of more than 700,000 people facing disasters in six countries - a change that not only makes aid operations more efficient but gives refugees more dignity and fires up the local economy. 

Among those receiving cash assistance are parents with malnourished children in South Sudan, families stricken by drought in Somalia and refugees struggling to adapt to life in northern Uganda. Cash assistance programmes run by World Vision have also assisted drought affected in Kenya and new mothers and out-of-work youth in Burundi.

“Cash is provided in places where buying and selling is still active in communities,” said Stephen Omollo, vice president of World Vision in East Africa, on the release of a 2017 report about cash based programming in East Africa’s emergency responses.

“Providing people with cash directly benefits children. Through these programmes, we’ve seen malnourished children recover because their family has been able to afford to buy enough food. We’ve witnessed children return to school because their families can afford the fees and we’ve seen the sick able to access health care and medicine,” Omollo said.

The move towards providing disaster affected with cash assistance is a growing humanitarian sector approach that aims to recognize people’s dignity and build their resilience.

“The ability to choose what to spend your money on is a fundamental human choice, and the humanitarian sector is realising that those in need of assistance can make their own choices towards assisting themselves and their families. We have seen families make wise choices and address both their short-term and longterm needs,” said Christopher Hoffman, World Vision’s regional humanitarian and emergency affairs director. 

Providing cash assistance is also viewed as a way to revitalize local markets and build communities’ economic recovery.

“From our experience at World Vision, the private sector is an integral partner in the success of cash programming. In areas where the local market could supply the commodities needed, we watched economies rebound. We’ve seen new businesses start and the family-run shops flourish after cash was injected into a community that was facing crisis. People were able to rely on their community market to meet their needs. Strong markets mean more jobs, with employment vital for recovery,” Omollo concluded.

Meet the beneficiaries: 

About World Vision: 

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

For more information, please contact: 

Mark Nonkes
Disaster Communication Advisor
World Vision – East Africa Region