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The global COVID-19 pandemic taught the world a lot of things. From patience, to taking care of others by wearing masks and staying at home, COVID-19 changed the way the world did a lot of things. One point that has come to light is the importance of cash during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recently published paper, titled The use of cash assistance in the Covid-19 humanitarian response: accelerating trends and missed opportunities, authors Julie Lawson-McDowall, Ruth McCormack, and Sophie Tholstrup report on the way that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on cash usage as a humanitarian response.

Cash in a Crisis

In the paper’s introduction, the authors write, “The Covid-19 pandemic transformed the way in which humanitarian assistance is delivered almost overnight. In a sector often resistant to change, the pace of adaptation—both to a constrained operating environment and to rising economic needs— has been extraordinary. Globally, cash and voucher assistance (CVA) has proven to be an appropriate and adaptable means of addressing essential needs and supporting livelihoods affected by the pandemic through humanitarian channels, government social assistance, or some combination of the two.”

Notably, the authors found that the use of cash for humanitarian assistance rose rapidly in the past few years, from around $2.8 billion in 2016 to $6.3 billion in 2020.

The Future of Cash in a Crisis

The authors found that “Cash has proven to be an adaptable means of saving lives and supporting livelihoods and mitigating the pandemic’s impacts on local economies while giving recipients the flexibility to decide what they require. Many humanitarian organisations have increased the scale of cash programmes, while government-administered social assistance mechanisms have been utilised on a huge scale.” 

With recognition that the value and validity of cash in a humanitarian crisis is positive, it stands to reason that the lessons learned throughout the global pandemic will be utilized in future situations.