Home - Thematic areas - Social Protection and Humanitarian Cash and Voucher Assistance

Social Protection and Humanitarian Cash Assistance

The use of social protection systems to support vulnerable people is becoming increasingly common in developing countries, and can provide a channel through which Cash and Voucher Assistance can be delivered in times of crisis. But to do so effectively will require increased coordination between humanitarian and development actors and long term support.



What role can social protection systems play in responding to
humanitarian emergencies? (OPM – as part of the
DFID-funded Shock Responsive Social Protection research)


Why is this theme important?

Humanitarian crises are becoming more complex and severe, and increasingly protracted, cyclical, or both. At the same time, there has been growth in the number and scale of social protection programmes across many developing countries. Protracted and more frequent emergencies increase the need for better connections across humanitarian and development work. Where appropriate, it can be more effective and efficient to assist crisis-affected populations through social protection systems.

Cash transfers are a common means of providing social assistance, while their use in humanitarian aid is also increasing. Social protection systems are being used to deliver humanitarian cash assistance more and more, including building the capacity of systems to respond to shocks. CaLP’s State of the World's Cash Report notes that the case for linking humanitarian CVA with social protection systems is becoming clearer but requires long-term technical and strategic support. The increasing importance of this topic has been highlighted by its adoption as a new sub-workstream during the 2018 Grand Bargain Cash Workstream meeting.

What should progress look like in this area?

Social protection systems vary from country to country, so learning must be applied across contexts carefully. However, these common issues can guide progress:

  • Further develop the evidence base on when and how it is appropriate to link humanitarian response to social protection systems. What improves efficiency and effectiveness in a given context and system?
  • Develop the evidence base on when and how humanitarian programmes can contribute to strengthen social protection systems
  • Improve coordination and opportunities for co-working between humanitarian and social protection stakeholders, both before and during crises. Determine which stakeholders should be involved, their roles and responsibilities, and the most effective spaces for cooperation in a given context
  • Build the respective capacities of humanitarian and social protection practitioners to better work together
  • Develop guidance for policy makers and practitioners on which contexts to prioritize and how best to design and implement programmes

Ongoing initiatives and news


Recent and ongoing CaLP initiatives on this topic include:

  • Developing a Learning Agenda for the MENA Region: In collaboration with the Regional Social Protection Working Group, CaLP has started work to help coordinate the development of a learning agenda on linking humanitarian assistance and social protection.
  • CaLP Scoping Exercise: To determine how best to contribute and add value to wider work on this topic, CaLP has undertaken a light touch scoping exercise to explore and analyse these issues. Outputs from this will be used to inform future planning.
  • Report on the Grand Bargain cash workstream sub-workstream on the linkages between humanitarian cash and social protection, 2019: Linking humanitarian cash and voucher assistance (CVA) with social protection, is often interpreted and implemented in different ways by both humanitarian and social protection actors.  This meeting aimed to highlight the need to learn from the diversity of practices as well as develop a common understanding of the issue between stakeholders working in the two sectors.  This report documents the key discussions on knowledge, practice, challenges and opportunities facing those trying to link humanitarian CVA and social protection and shares the outcomes from the workshop. The outcomes include a draft workplan with short-term quick wins and longer-term activities. Key proposals include consolidating the existing evidence base, furthering the dialogue which has been started in this event, and actively promoting knowledge sharing and learning across the two sectors.

Learn more

Training Courses & Materials

CTP and Social Protection Part 1: Linking Humanitarian CTP and Social Protection - an Introduction. 
Available in English French and coming soon in Arabic.

CTP and Social Protection Part 2: Designing CTPs that are Linked to Social Protection. 
Available in English and coming soon in French and Arabic

Social Protection and CTP
A 1.5-day face to face training course developed by CaLP, available in English

Please log in to Kaya to access these courses.

Various courses on social protection, including both on-line and face to face courses, can be accessed through the Virtual Campus at socialprotection.org

Evidence & Other Resources  

How to: Tools & Guidelines

News & discussion

D-groups Sign up to CaLP's discussion groups Click here