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 a 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

OPM Shock Responsive Social Protection Systems

From 2015-2018 Oxford Policy Management (OPM), lead a UK DFID-funded research project on Shock Responsive Social Protection Systems with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), CaLP and INASP. The study aimed to strengthen the evidence base as to when and how social protection systems can better scale up in response to shocks in low-income countries and fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS).

The project produced a wide range of outputs, including: an infographic on ways to adapt social protection systems for humanitarian crises; a literature review of publications on shock responsive social protection systems; and a synthesis report of the consolidated findings from the research, and a toolkit (see Tools & Guidelines section on this page). In depth case studies, reviews, policy briefs and translations can be found here.  You can also join the online community on Social Protection in Crisis Contexts on Socialprotection.org.  

Please contact Valentina Barca of OPM, at valentina.barca@opml.co.uk if you have any questions.


Recent and ongoing CaLP initiatives on this topic include:

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