Santosh and her daughters received Cash help during the COVID-19 crisis.

India: How Cash and Voucher programmes help families during COVID-19

Widowed Santosh shares a small one room with her mother and two daughters Pooja, 18, and Shradha, 5, in Lucknow, northern India.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, they ran a shop outside their house. It was the family’s only source of income.

When the pandemic started, Pooja had to attend online classes at a relative’s home, because they couldn’t afford to pay for an internet connection on her mobile phone.

“Our shop was closed for three months during the lockdown. We were struggling for food and we had no money left. I pray we don’t have to live through another time like that,” Santosh tells us.

Just as their problems were getting worse, the family faced another major setback - Pooja suffered from a stomach infection and needed urgent treatment.

Pooja, 18, needed urgent treatment as her family was in COVID-19 lockdown.

“Government hospitals were filled with COVID-19 patients and no doctor was willing to treat us. We had to go to a private doctor to get treatment.  

“We had no money then. At that time we received a sum of Rs.3450 (US$46) from World Vision India. We used that money for Pooja’s treatment,” says Santosh.

The remaining money paid for an internet connection on Pooja's phone and items so Santosh could restock her shop. This meant Pooja could attend her online classes from home.

“Now we are slowing getting back on our feet,” Santosh tells us.

Santosh and her mother at their family shop in India.

For Santosh and her family, World Vision India’s assistance couldn’t have come at a better time.

“World Vision India is God’s gift for the poor like us,” says Santosh with a smile. 

World Vision India’s Cash and Voucher programming allows beneficiaries to use the money as they need.

This is different from most relief distributions, where beneficiaries receive pre-selected items like dry rations and hygiene kits.

In Delhi, many families received Economic Development Assistance (EDA) as part of the COVID-19 restoration response. This is to improve their livelihood and help them get back on their feet. Each beneficiary received the assistance of Rs.5000 (US$67) through cash transfer.

Now, Santosh's family shop is back up and running.

As part of World Vision India’s recovery response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown, they began Cash and Voucher programming in many of communities across India in May 2020.

So far, over 590,000 families have received support through cash and commodity vouchers, totalling over US$1,653,955.

These funds help families buy necessary items and - in many cases - help them revive their livelihoods, which suffered major setbacks during the lockdown.

Through the commodity vouchers, beneficiaries can buy food rations and other essentials from the specified local vendors, which also helps strengthen the local economy.

“This Cash and Voucher programme happened to be timely when there were major concerns for food security for the children and families who were facing lockdown, limiting their livelihood options,” says Franklin Jones, Head of Humanitarian & Emergency Affairs at World Vision India.

Find out more about our COVID-19 response here.