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Cash and voucher programming

Cash and voucher programming (Allan Gichigi / Oxfam)

At a glance

Cash and voucher programming is one approach that enables Oxfam to provide the most appropriate and effective support in a crisis.  


Cash is a modality that can gives people greater choice, dignity and control over their lives. Through efficiency and effectiveness gains, and better support to local markets and economies, it also enables Oxfam to reach a greater number of people in need.

Working through local markets supports local economies, which can increase the chances of faster recovery. Most of the practical things people need after a crisis can today be bought in local markets. Giving cash (or vouchers) allows people to choose what they need most while bolstering the prevailing market systems.

Working through markets, (known as 'market-based programming') can be a critical component of good humanitarian response. The response teams may choose to use cash, vouchers or in-kind goods, depending on the needs of the communities and the context in that country. Therefore cash and markets frequently go hand in hand.

Oxfam's experience

Oxfam has been a global leader in cash and voucher programming for more than 20 years, with specific emphasis on the use of these modalities in humanitarian responses. Currently delivery of aid through cash and vouchers represents an average of 23% of Oxfam's country office humanitarian budgets and it contributes a significant amount to the work being undertaken by Oxfam and its partners.

Oxfam's early experience in this type of programming allowed the organization to contribute towards seminal research on cash in humanitarian programmes, and helped to raise the profile of cash in the humanitarian community. Oxfam was one of the five founding members of the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) in 2006, and we continue to be a leading member of this important network, which has grown to include over 80 members today.

Oxfam's approach is rooted in supporting markets, incorporating delivery of aid through market structures, as well as work to support and strengthen the capacity of key market actors and infrastructures where possible. Oxfam was also instrumental in the development of the now frequently used market assessment tools; the Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis (EMMA) and the Pre-Crisis Market Analysis, as well as the Oxfam 48-hour assessment toolkit, and the Gendered Enterprise and Market Approach (GEM)Toolkit.

Cash transfer programming

Since 2010, CaLP has been using cash transfers to help ensure that the humanitarian community has the skills and knowledge needed for effective programming to deliver aid quickly and at-scale to those who need it the most.

For more information on our work, see the Social Protection and Cash and Multipurpose Cash Grants pages.