Cash and voucher assistance

Woman holding cash
Saraswati receives cash in Chhahre Bazaar, Nepal, to help her and her family through the monsoon season.

Whether disaster, conflict, or pandemic, we know that after crisis strikes one of the most effective ways to help people get back on their feet is by giving them cash. When markets are functioning, cash — in the form of vouchers, prepaid debit cards, mobile transfers, bank account transfers, paper money, or cash-for-work — gives families the ability to purchase what they need the most.

Cash assistance is also a vital tool to bridge the divide between emergency response and longer-term recovery. It helps us reach more people quicker, while also jumpstarting local economies.

Because of this, cash assistance is no longer a niche programming tool but a critical component of emergency response. The amount of cash given globally has more than doubled in recent years, from $2 billion in 2015 to $5.6 billion in 2019.

  • $57m

    total cash given by Mercy Corps in 2020
  • 48%

    of our humanitarian assistance is cash and vouchers
  • $5.6b

    worldwide cash assistance in 2019


With increasingly complex and protracted crises, we must deliver more effectively, efficiently, and at a scale not previously demanded of us. To rise to the occasion, Mercy Corps is focusing on four key areas:

  • We implement processes and systems that reduce risk and ensure that our program participants are safe and their data is protected.
  • We align our cash programs with government-run poverty reduction programs where they exist. This helps families more easily transition out of short-term assistance led by non-governmental organizations to longer-term support where needed.
  • We know that we accomplish more and have greater impact when we join partnerships. We are committed to continuing to lead collaboration efforts to not only expand our reach but to have a greater voice to influence the future of cash in our sector.
  • We leverage technology as a powerful tool to both improve our programming operations and expand our impact. Cash assistance is increasingly becoming digital, and we are at the forefront of ensuring cash gets to those who need it most in the safest, most secure ways. Digital cash transfers also provide the opportunity for recipients to engage with new technologies.

Mercy Corps sees cash assistance as providing a basic layer of economic security, from which greater transformational change can be achieved. That’s why we provide other support alongside cash assistance to move beyond meeting basic needs and strengthen resilience. Through our approach, we seek to help families improve food security and nutrition, access financial services, and support local economies.