Re-balancing the ‘value for money’ calculations in humanitarian cash assistance by including beneficiaries’ perspectives

Recommendations for international donors on designing and evaluating humanitarian cash programmes

Birte Vogel, University of Manchester

Brief Summary

This policy brief integrates beneficiaries’ experiences and expectations on humanitarian cash and voucher assistance (CVA) with traditional Value for Money considerations, and analysis on how they intersect. It is based on a multi-case research study (Juillard et al, 2020) that allowed space to capture the voices of crisis-affected people receiving assistance via different operational models (Unified Delivery Platforms, linking to Social Security Networks, and consolidation of grants). It is important to acknowledge the strengths, but also the limitations, of different operational models for delivering at scale.

The findings suggest that the debate on humanitarian CVA Value for Money needs to go beyond scale alone, and take the quality assistance, defined as effective, equitable and sustainable, into account alongside traditional economy and efficiency considerations to meet beneficiaries’ expectations. To research the majority of crisis-affected people, there is also still a need for other, more agile and supplementary programmes to complement large-scale programmes. Based on the findings, this document offers practical guidance for assessing value for money taking different priorities into account.

This policy brief:

  • Unpacks the strengths of different operational models;
  • Highlights concerns from the beneficiaries’ perspective;
  • Offers recommendations on how to address these challenges;
  • Suggests that equity may be achieved via a mix of different operational models to ensure the needed level of flexibility to reach most crisis-affected people