DevExplains: Humanitarian payments

By Adva Saldinger 23 October 2015

Could humanitarian payments be the new way to distribute aid following a disaster? Find out what they are and what it could mean for humanitarian aid in this DevExplains video.

Today the vast majority of humanitarian aid distributed following a disaster is in the form of goods — be it food, clean water, shelter or other needs. But only a few percent of the $22 billion spent on disaster response finance is distributed through humanitarian or currency payments.

The system has worked this way for good reason, because often the local infrastructure may be damaged or gone in the immediate aftermath. However as we see more protracted disasters or conflicts, which may require a response that can last for years, finding new ways to work may be important.

In the case where immediate supplies aren’t needed providing money — by way of cash, electronic payments, a paper voucher or a gift card will allow people to buy goods and services. It’s been shown to be both cheaper and more effective. Local economies bounce back faster and the recipients are empowered and are treated with greater dignity.

Watch the above video to learn more about this issue of humanitarian or currency payments.

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About the author

Adva Saldinger@AdvaSal

As a Devex Impact associate editor, Adva leads coverage of the intersection of business and international development. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, she enjoys exploring the role the private sector and private capital play in development. Previously, she has worked as a reporter at newspapers in both the U.S. and South Africa. Most recently, she has been ghostwriting a memoir for a former child slave and NGO founder in Ghana.

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